Troubleshooting lights

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sb56637
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If it gets too long an unwieldy I can look into splitting it up or we can put an index at the top.  We'll figure something out.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

Don
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First Steps with a New Light

 

So, your new light has arrived. As it happens, one arrived for me today. So we'll use it as an example. It is one of these a flood to throw light. Having got it out of the packaging, it is not a dreadfully good idea to throw the packaging away. You may need it to return the light, of there may be things lurking it it. In this case I found a nylon holster lurking in the bottom of the box. So having found all the parts, we can put the packaging aside.

 

A visual inspection is always a good idea. So here it is.

light

 

Looks OK.

 

Does it rattle?

What I usually do next is give it a gentle shake. Are there any rattles or bad sounds? If there are, put a battery in it and try again. They shouldn't rattle - if they do, something is loose that needs to be tightened up. The first places to look are the switch retaining ring and the pill. If they are loose, you are going to get flickering or worse. However, this light, being a zooming light has to be checked with the head at the various settings. There is a faint rattle at the farthest extension (Tightest spot). The whole head will rock slightly at this setting, probably because there isn't enough body tube to keep it in line. There was a small amount of movement from the aspheric optic. Don't touch it with your fingers, if it is coated glass you will damage the coating, if it plastic you will scratch it. Use a lint-free cloth or anything you'd clean spectacles with. Tightening up the bezel ring fixed that. You can see the gap for the bezel ring quite clearly in this picture, far more clearly than I could actually see it. There are no other rattles so we'll set aside the head issue for the moment.

 

Inspect the threads

Just a visual inspection just now. Tailcap first as it is easiest.

threads

This photo doesn't show it but they are covered in some grey crud - which may, or may not be a lubricant. Judging by the squeaks, if it is a lubricant it isn't doing its job. So I'll clean the tailcap threads. I find the best way to do this is with some toilet paper which I push into the threads with a fingernail and then twist the tailcap around to use my fingernail and paper to follow the threads and clean them out. A couple of pictures to explain.

1

I have my thumbnail engaged in the threads and am using it to push the tissue into the threads.

 

Fold the paper back so we can see the threads.

2

 

Here's what came off.

3

 

We'll set the tailcap aside for the moment. Obviously there is no point at all in only cleaning half of the pair of threads, the body tube is going to need cleaning too. As it happens there is a huge (maybe 1mm long) lump of crud stuck to the black stuff so it needs a good clean too.

 

Before

Body threads

You can see the lump of crud at about 5 o'clock. Same technique to clean the body threads. You can, of course use a cocktail stick, toothpick, scriber or whatever, I just tend to use a thumbnail because it is hard to lose.

 

Here's what came out of the body tube.

Yuk!

Yuk!

 

So we now have nice clean threads. And boy do they sound like dry threads. Not nice. So we'll put a little silicone grease on the threads and O rings. Then we'll wipe most of it off. I usually apply a blob to the threads of the tailcap and screw in in and out of the body tube. The O ring should get lightly coated too. Lubrication is a matter of personal preference - many people prefer a lighter lubricant - maybe even most, but I prefer a heavier one even though I end up wiping most of it off again. I've been using the same tube of silicone grease for more than ten years and the stuff is dirt cheap. If you perfer a runnier lubricant, feel free. The trick is Don't Use Too Much. You'll just have to clean off the threads again. Remember that lubricants are an electrical insulator and you are depending on those threads to transmit current. Don't fill the gap with so much lube that it won't work.

 

So I apply a small quantity of lube

lubing

 

Then I screw the tailcap in and out and make sure the O ring gets well greased. Then I remove the tailcap and clean the threads just as I did at first. There will be plenty grease in the threads of the body tube now and I can give the O ring a little more if I feel it needs it. It does so another very small amount gets applied to the O ring - an amount about the size of a match head is too much. I wipe this round the O ring then go and wash my hands -  I loathe the feel of silicone grease on my hands.

 

I'm now in two minds about the movable head. In this case it's meant to move and it is friction that keeps it in place. However, the feel is horrible so do I lube it or not. Nah, that can wait, after all it's not yet been dark since I got my new precision instrument toy. We'll see what it's like in a day or two.

 

This one's head is not removable so I don't have to repeat what I did with the tailcap.

 

Of course what I actually did was ripped open the package, pulled out an 18650 and made sure it worked. The I played with it till it was time to go to work. Now that I'm home from work I've done the preliminary inspection.

 

 


 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

sb56637
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Great Don!  I can't add anything to that.  Very clear.  I can clean up some of the other posts in this thread later on.

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Don
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I've picked a list of useful items (mostly from DX), none of which cost all that much. Not sure where this belongs, but here seems as good a place as any.

 

Some sheets of paper 11x17 or A3 for laying stuff on where you won't lose it. It is much easier to find small parts on a sheet of white paper. Also makes sure your work area is clean.

 

Some copper wire. I use solid core Cat5 ethernet cable. It is cheap - for under $50 you get about 1000 feet of the stuff which gives you 8000 feet of solid copper wire. A foot or so of the stuff ought to be free.

 

Some copper braid - usually sold as desoldering braid. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.9159

 

Some small screwdrivers. These DX ones are cheap enough to use as devices for moving switch retaining rings around.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6060

 

A set of picks and probes for fiddling with stuff.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.34527

 

A spudger or two can be incredibly useful for prying stuff apart.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19279

 

Plastic spudgers are handy too, they won't damage anything themself but have to be treated as consumables. Any mobile phone opening kit will contain some.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3006

 

A pair of fine pointed tweezers.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19869

 

A pair of straight tweezers. Matter of choice which sort you prefer. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19872

 

A set of fine nosed pliers. Something along these lines.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.7024 I tend to use a Gerber multitool

 

An air blower for blowing out dust.  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12969

 

A lens cleaning cloth. Any optician will sell you one. My personal preference is the "Calotherm" brand but any lint-free cloth will do. This micro fibre one might be good but isn't all that cheap. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.34097

 

Some fine (800 grit or finer - I use 1200 grit) wet and dry sandpaper or a diamond file. The diamond file need only be about 1 x 3" (25x75mm) and should be as fine a grit as possible. They are very cheap nowadays.

 

A flathead screwdriver of about 6" (15cm) length. Mostly to be used as a pry bar.

 

Optional: This watch repair kit contains all sorts of useful bits and bobs but may not be strong enough for playing with bezel rings and the like. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15374

 

Optional: But very useful for all sorts of things. A set of circlip pliers. Useful for bezel rings and switch retaining rings. Don't buy expensive ones, these tend to become consumables. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.8484

 

Optional: A cheap watch case cracker - I can't think how to describe it so I'll take a picture of it later

 

Optional: A set of cheap haemostats (artery clamps, locking tweezers) in various lengths and tip shapes. I use mine a lot.

 

There are hundreds of other items I could add such as strap wrenches, vices, hammers, drills and so on and you won't even need everything on this list and there are very likely things on this list you'll never use or can get away with a field expedient. Because I'm 50 this year and getting long sighted I always end up using a wide range of magnifiers but if your eyesight is better than mine you won't need those - I didn't till I was 45.

 

 

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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It would be nice if you did not include all the other posts......would make a new comer have to read all the info before he found all the nice tips.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

Don
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We'll need to get them written first though. ;) Wink :wink:" class="smiley-class smileysProcessed">

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

sb56637
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alfreddajero wrote:

It would be nice if you did not include all the other posts......would make a new comer have to read all the info before he found all the nice tips.

 

You bet, I'll clean it all up or consolidate it into a single clean post once we get the content finalized.  Thanks for everyone's hard work!

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

Don
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I have another non-functioning Aurora SH0030 (5 mode this time) to sort out. Pics this time once the sun comes back up. Still have a lot of work to prepare for Sunday and Monday so will try to fit in the photography.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Don
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Since it is a nice day I went out and cut the grass for the first time this year (We had snow 2 weeks ago). Then dug out the camera and illustrated the basic repair article above. #13

 

Enjoy!

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

fishinfool
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That (edited #13) was awesome Don!  This thread is really going to be helpful for newbies like me.  Don't you wish you had an extra pair of hands? LOL 

Don wrote:

"But as I said long ago, you are more likely to be killed by a dead fish dropped by a seagull in the Sahara Desert than by a lithium ion

Don
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A while back I ordered one of these but what I got was one of these. One does wonder why someone thought it was a good idea to put a quad die LED into a reflector designed for a single die. But never mind, one would hope that the sheer power output would be enough to make it throw.

The light

The other side

 

But there was a small problem. Well, actually several of them. When it worked (which was not often) then it was, as expected, a compromised thrower that put out a lot of light. But a lot of the time it wouldn't work.

 

As you can see from this view down the body tube there's a spring down there.

Down the tube

 

In fact I could push an 18650 down about a centimetre in there. Maybe it wasn't making contact well enough with the spring to allow the thing to conduct electricity -despite a centimetre of travel in the head spring, there was only about 4mm of travel in the tail spring - maybe it isn't extending enough. It worked well enough with the cell pushed in and a bit of wire taking the place of the switch.

 

Several attempts to braze some coins together to make a spacer were given up on when i ran out of gas for the torch. After a spot more thought, I put a big blob of solder on the switch end button

Tailcap

 

Now the $£%^&%^&$%^ thing wouldn't work at all. Checked the switch with a multimeter. Contact dodgy. So back to the wire trick.

 

No light.....

 

Thinking thoughts about dumpsters at this point.

 

There may be a problem in the head as well. So take the head off. It turns out that is easier said than done. The scarring on the body you can see in the first two pictures shows how well the head resisted my attempts to remove it - it is very comprehensively glued in place. The vice I used wasn't up to the job either. So it got put aside while I scratched my head about what to do next. Dumpsters are still foremost in my thoughts. Old4570 on Jayki.com was having the same problem - he wanted to mod his one - I just wanted to make mine work. Then a kind soul pointed us to a CPF thread where someone had got the head apart. 

 

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showpost.php?p=3189126&postcount=264

 

Hooray!. So, having removed the bezel ring, lens and O ring (fortunately my bezel ring was not glued, some are) I could prise out the reflector which is held in with four O rings, two at the top and two at the bottom. Fortunately there was nothing wrong with the electronic guts once I'd screwed the pill firmly into place and it was now happily pulling 3.2A from an 18650 meaning that it is most likely driving the MC-E LED at the spec of 2.8A. Short of desoldering the LED and wearing welder's goggles to check, it is hard to measure the current to the LED. Whee! It's bright.

 

Pity about the switch though. 

 

Eventually lost patience with the switch - I'd ordered a stack of switches from DX when I thought the switch was the only problem.

 

Dismantled the tailcap found the switch assembly soldered to a PCB that made contact with the body through a ring of solder on its outside. After adding enough solder it now works just fine. Here's what's in the tailcap.

Guts of the tailcap

The bright ring round the PCB is the extra solder I added. The actual switch is soldered to the other side of this PCB - I tried to remove it, but it is well jammed in there now and doesn't want to come out.

 

In this picture you can see where the switch retaining ring has bitten into the extra solder at about 4 o'clock and 11 o'clock.

Switch mounting

 

I also added a blob of solder to the end of the brass pin that contacts the negative of the battery in order for it to make more reliable contact with the battery.

Tail mods

The brass pin engages with the spring on the switch PCB and is insulated from the positive end by the plastic ring which goes into the centre of the retaining ring.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Don
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fishinfool wrote:

That (edited #13) was awesome Don!  This thread is really going to be helpful for newbies like me.  Don't you wish you had an extra pair of hands? LOL 

 

When I grow up (I'm 50 this year), I think I want to be an octopus. Or at least have more than two hands :bigsmile:

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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Glad you got the light to work bud.......did you ever install a new switch.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

Don
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Didn't need to in the end. The problem was the PCB that the switch was mounted on didn't contact the body of the tailcap so current couldn't flow. It was clear that the original solder had got squashed out of the way when I first tightened the retaining ring.

 

Put up some pictures now to explain.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Don
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Won't be dark for another hour or so so here's a beamshot comparison on my ceiling - the lights are tail-standing on top of the door so the lights are about 60cm (2') from the ceiling. The four lights are, the Piritlight, a Trustfire F22, a Tank007 E07 and an Ultrafire C3 Q5 SS

The lights

 

The beams

The beams

Just noticed that the Trustfire was on low which is why it seems so wimpy in this shot. That Piritlight is bright.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

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