Modding the Aleto N8 ... now shorter than a Sipik 68

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Firelight2
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Modding the Aleto N8 ... now shorter than a Sipik 68

Note: Descriptions and some of the pictures in this thread were previously posted in the thread Super-small 18650 zoomie – quick review and mod This thread contains additional pictures and beamshots and more description of some of the later steps in the mod. I also removed descriptions of some early changes that I reverted.
____________

I purchased this gold Aleto N8 on Ebay. There are several different 14500 versions of this light, but the one on Ebay was the only 18650 version I could find.
 photo StockAletoN8.jpg

The gold one on EBay is the only version of this light I could find. I was unable to find a black version. I received the light about a week after I ordered… impressively fast shipping for a light from China to the U.S.

In stock form it has:
1. Hollow aluminum pill. O-ring on the pill to give a smooth bezel slide.
2. XML T6 cool white emitter on thin aluminum star.
3. multi-mode 17mm driver (looked like 3 brightness levels plus 3 different strobe/flashy modes)
4. Lens is properly focused. About as wide as a Sipik 68 in flood, with a focused projection of the emitter in spot. The flood is much brighter than a Sipik 68, but the spot mode is relatively dim…. huge wide image of the XML emitter, but with far less throw than a Sipik 68. This is to be expected of any zoomie using an XML.
5. Tailcap switch has a loud click and looks like it uses a 14mm or 16mm switch boot…. larger than the 12mm of a Sipik 68 or the AA version of this light. Unclear if this switch is a one-piece uinit like the AA version or a multi-part unit consisting of a clicky, spring and plastic retaining ring like the Sipik 68.
6. Heatsinking is not great. Note that the pill sits under the grooved sliding bezel. The heatsink fins on the body are well below the pill. Also the entire light is very lightly built with thin aluminum… this light is built for small size. Everything else is secondary.

This is the smallest 18650 zoomie currently available. I measured it at 24 mm wide x 108 mm long. It’s much larger than the AA version, but still smaller than a Sipik 98. Overall, it’s about the same size as a Convoy S6, but less solidly built.

… but how about making it even smaller? J) J) J)

First up was to replace the emitter and build a platform and heatsink for the star. I did the following:
1. Built heat sink and LED platform of 4 copper disks soldered together, with notches for LED wires. Attached the heatsink to the hollow pill with Arctic Alumina.
2. Replaced star with 16mm Noctigon direct copper star
3. Reflowed dedomed cool white XM-L2 onto new star.
4. Replaced driver with Nanjg 105c with Comfychair’s FET mod and DrJones Lumodrv.

Then I needed to adjust the focus
1. Filed down bottom of of pill’s lip so lens can extend further. It needed to extend further because the Noctigon and copper platform raised the LED higher than stock.
2. Filed down top of the pill and bottom of the bezel. This allowed the lens to retract till its almost touching the wires on the star. This gives maximum possible flood… I measured it at 89.5 degrees. Here are some screenshots of the flood and spot.
 photo 205.jpg  photo 206.jpg
Note that in this short distance picture of the spot mode, you can see an image of the Noctigon star around the beam. The real beam image is far more intense so the Noctigon is much less noticeable. This is caused by reflections off the inside of the bezel illuminating the star. Since the inside of the bezel isn’t black, some reflections are unavoidable.

Anodizing – I wasn’t a fan of the gold anodizing and removed it with a Greased Lightning bath.

Sideswitch – I wanted to install a sideswitch so I could use DrJones awesome Lumodrv driver and so I could remove the tailcap switch and shorten the light. I needed to rig an electrical contact from either side of the driver to an external momentary switch and then to the body of the light. Not so easy on a light with a pill. And except for a rechargeable hand drill, I have no power tools. This is what I did:
1. Drilled and filed a hole approximately half a cm wide in the body just below the sliding bezel. This hole is revealed when the bezel is extended. It passes complete through the body into the battery compartment just below the driver.
2. Soldered a short piece of old solid-core wire to the “4” star on the driver. When the pill is screwed in, this piece of wire lines up with the hole and can be fished partially through with tweezers. I put a little arctic alumina over the wire around and below the 4-star so that if the wire gets torqued screwing or unscrewing the pill it won’t damage the driver.
3. Filed down part of the outside of the body in a line between the hole and the heatsink fins. This is so I could rig an electrical contact on the outside of the body without having the sliding bezel hit it when the bezel is retracted into flood mode.
4. I needed a flat contact, so wire was out. I used kapton tape on the bottom, then a strip of thin tin sheet (chosen because it solders easily), and another layer of Kapton tape on top. Super-glue gel around the edges to make sure the tape stays put. One end of the tin strip goes into the hole and angles down. The other end goes to the heatsink fins and rides up over them before stopping.
5. The small piece of wire connecting to the 4-star goes into the hole, then turns 90 degrees towards the tailcap before touching the tin strip. Soldered it in place.
6. Filed off the top of the heatsink fins below the switch. Put down some Kapton tape for insulation then used arctic alumina to glue on a tiny momentary tact switch I got on Ebay.
7. One of the contacts at the front of the switch was soldered with a short piece of wire to the tin strip.
8. To connect the switch to the body I drilled 2 small holes in the body, bent the rear switch pins downward and loaded them up with solder, then wedged the pins into the small holes.
9. Anchored the switch in place with more actic alumina.
10. I then made a switch cover using the rubber boot from a cheap plastic Duracell flaslight from the local drugstore and a piece of aluminum sheet. Screwed it down with some small screws I had. The rear of the switch plate is also glued on with superglue gel, but can easily be removed to service the switch if needed. I tried different stuffing in the switchboot to fine-tune the pressure required to activate the switch.
11. I sealed up the contact wire hole with more Kapton tape and a little arctic alumina. Servicing the pill o-ring will be a pain, but isn’t impossible. I’d have to unseal the Kapton tape and arctic alumina over the hole to reveal the solder, desolder the contact wire, then unscrew the pill. Then repeat the process in reverse. Fortunately, the o-ring is large, so I don’t expect frequent servicing to be needed.

Here is an interim picture of the light with the sideswitch standing next to a stock Sipik 68. The tailcap has not yet been shortened. In this interim form it is now 102mm long.
 photo photo23-1.jpg  photo 208.jpg Picture of the inside of the battery tube… it’s blurry but you can see the red wire connecting the 4-star to the sideswitch. The positive contact at the bottom of the driver keeps the battery off the wire.

Finally, I removed the rear switch and shortened the tailcap This reduced the length of the light to 95mm. I used a handfile to file off the back off the tailcap above the button boot, and the bottom of the threads. I also sawed and filed off the top of the threads on the body. Then I built a simple contact plate and installed a solder-braided spring. This reduced the length to 95mm. Here are some pictures of the shortened light:
 photo 203.jpg Modded Aleto N8 standing next to a Zebralight SC62d. As you can see, both lights are about the same size!

 photo 204.jpg Beauty shot!  photo 207.jpg Tailcap open standing next to Samsung 25r INR cell. The light works perfectly with Samsung 20r and 25r. However, Zebralight 3100 mAh protected are a little too long. The light still works and is secure, but the tailcap won’t quite screw on all the way. Not a problem for me as I’d planned on using the INR cells, however in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have filed down the back of the body so much. I could’ve left it 1mm longer and had no issues with protected cells.

 photo 209.jpg Picture showing the back of the endcap.

Still to do:
1. The light works great, but the switch is a little further back than I’d like. If I replace the stock lens with a fresnel with a shorter focal length, then I could file off the top of the bezel as it wouldn’t need to extend as far. This wouldn’t shorten the overall light anymore, but would allow me to reduce the length of ribbed portion, exposing more of the body in flood mode. Then I could move the switch forward maybe as much as 1 cm. Note that in this mod, the sideswitch is mounted on the outside of the battery tube… unlike sideswitch lights on the market, the battery goes completely under the switch. I’ve ordered some fresnel lenses and will examine this option further when they arrive.
2. The tailcap and body could use something to increase grip. My checkering file should arrive next week.
3. I slightly damaged the corner of the emitter trying to remove some debris. As soon as my new emitter arrives I’ll do an emitter swap to a replacement emitter.

Edited by: Firelight2 on 05/20/2014 - 19:19
MRsDNF
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What an orsm mod Firelight2. l love your creativity here and the end result is that it works. I dip my hat to you. Thanks for sharing. One problem though. I need to know whats next on your hit list of mods to do and we need more pictures next time. Smile

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure. Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unkowingly paid for by a hard working wife. Free plug for my daughter. http://missymupsnails.com.au

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sub-scribed!

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Good work!

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Firelight2
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I should go buy a Dremel.

I did all grinding on this light with a set of hand files. Hours and hours of hand-filing. :Sp

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Impressive work!

Gotta love a light with some DrJones awesomeness!

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MRsDNF wrote:

What an orsm mod Firelight2. l love your creativity here and the end result is that it works. I dip my hat to you. Thanks for sharing. One problem though. I need to know whats next on your hit list of mods to do and we need more pictures next time. Smile

Yes, next time I’ll try to take more pictures. I should have taken more of the insides as the light was being built…. especially of the unusual features like how I implemented the sideswitch.

Not sure what I want to do next. Might try building something for the competition. I have some ideas on what to try making.

I’d also like to finish up this Aleto N8 light. Waiting for my checkering file to arrive so I can add some grip and pretty it up. Also hoping replacing the relatively long focal length stock lens with a fresnel lens lets me shorten the bezel so I can reposition the switch further forward.

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Checkering file? I have to see pictures of that. I dont believe I have seen the Grand Master here use that tool. 

Yes. Do the build. it would make the Grand Master very happy. I hope you booked in.

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure. Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unkowingly paid for by a hard working wife. Free plug for my daughter. http://missymupsnails.com.au

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Very nice.
So you have a link for the sideswitch?

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I used these switches from Ebay micro-side switches

At 5.2×5.2×1.5 mm high they were smaller than the smallest I could find at Radio Shack.

These were also very cheap… $3 for a bag of 50 of them.

I also purchased a bag of even flatter microswitches, flat switches

Unfortunately, these flatter ones proved unusable for my needs. Instead of an internal spring the only moving part was the flexible button on the top held on by Kapton tape. I couldn’t glue anything to the top of these without making the button non-functional so went with the slightly larger ones.

The rubber button boot on top of the button was taken from a cheap plastic Duracell flashlight from the drugstore. I basically tore the light apart to get to the button boot. I scratchbuilt the metal cover around it from a piece of sheet aluminum.

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Thanks for the info.
Just bought a pack of the switches, at this price I couldn’t resist.

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I spent a half hour last night and did a quick polish on the light. This wasn’t a very thorough polish… just enough to get it looking neater than before, but by no means mirror finish.

Before:
 photo 204.jpg After:  photo 001.jpg
Here’s a picture of the polished light standing next to an unmodded Sipik 68:
 photo 002.jpg

And here’s a beamshot showing the Aleto next to a Sipik 68. The Aleto is running on Samsung 25r and the Sipik is running on 14500. The Aleto is enormously brighter, but it’s hard to tell in this beamshot. However, you can clearly see how much wider the floodbeam is compared to the Sipik.
 photo 003.jpg

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Wonder why the lightning didn’t take out the gold in the machined grooves?

Looks fantastic after the polishing.

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unknown00101 wrote:
Wonder why the lightning didn’t take out the gold in the machined grooves?

Looks fantastic after the polishing.

Actually it did get the gold out of the grooves between the heatsink fins and the small grooves on the bezel. However, I wasn’t able to easily polish between them with my quick polish job so the area between the fins is a lighter unpolished color grey-white.

The one area that still has some gold is part of the area under the sliding bezel. It’s not visible except when the bezel is extended in spot mode. That was my fault for soaking it in Greased Lightning with the bezel sitting on the body.

Greased Lightning needs room to circulate in order to do a good job removing anodizing.

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Great job!  I love what you've done with it.  These are the kinds of threads that keep me coming back to BLF.

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The entire conversion over to an e-switch is amazing! Great job on this light!

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Whew!

Tried to do an emitter swap last night.

Turns out I had too much thermal epoxy under the star (I’d held the star on with 2 dabs of arctic silver epoxy at the side and arctic silver 5 thermal grease in the center).

Took an enormous amount of effort to finally get that star off. Destroyed the old emitter in the process too…. oops! Then when I put the new star and emitter in, the light kept failing. Wasn’t sure what the problem was. Took the light apart and actually built an entirely new duplicate driver just on the off chance that was the problem.

Turns out after the effort of trying to get the original star off, when I put in the replacement I wasn’t using enough thermal epoxy. It was failing and the star was separating from the pill. This cause the solder joins from the driver wires to the star to melt and break contact.

I finally fixed it by using more thermal epoxy… hopefully not too much like the first time.

I’m thinking that perhaps this would be a lovely light to actually use screws to hold on the star. I’ve never used screws for stars before, but that would solve the problem completely and be way better than having to torque through a big bunch of epoxy each time.

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Yes, screws are nice.  If you need to, you can mix some Arctic Alumina with some regular thermal paste, that way you can get good coverage and have a bond that isn't quite as strong. 

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RMM wrote:

Yes, screws are nice.  If you need to, you can mix some Arctic Alumina with some regular thermal paste, that way you can get good coverage and have a bond that isn’t quite as strong. 

Good idea.

With my reflector lights, usually the reflector presses down on the star so nothing extra is needed. But with these aspherics, the star is exposed. Definitely something extra needed to keep it in place.

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I put on a replacement star with screws…. much better now! Party

I used a 16mm direct copper star from Illumination Supply instead of a Noctigon. The Illumination Supply star had convenient holes for screws already in the star. I used some leftover screws I had that came with a flashlight clip. I’m quite happy with how it came out. Using 2 screws and a layer of Arctic Silver 5 thermal grease I’m getting much better thermal conductivity than with thermal epoxy.

Anyone know a good source to get more tiny screws? I have other lights I’d like to do this to.

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Home Depot!  Really, it depends on the quantity, sizing, and quality you need.  Usually there are local "nut and bolt" supply houses that have a huge selection.  Online there's always McMaster-Carr.

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My checkering file from Amazon arrived.
 photo Grobetcheckeringfile.jpg

Checkering File

The face of the file is a set of pyramid shaped teeth in a grid pattern. When run repeatedly across metal it creates parallel lines. I plan to use this file to add knurling to the light. The end result might look a bit less classy, but should have better grip and be more comfortable to use.

Once I have a chance to work on the light with the file I’ll post some updated pictures of what the light looks like.

I’ also ordered some Norland NOA61 optical glue and a 365 nm ultraviolet light. When that and my fresnel lens arrives I plan to try making an alternate lens assembly. If the fresnel lens works out, then I can try shortening the bezel and moving the switch forward.

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Nice tool!
I guess you roll the alu pipe between this and a wooden bench or plank?
Or maybe it’s better on a hard surface, like a smooth tile, to keep that smooth (classy) surface, but checkered with inverted pyramids.
I also guess it will, once the pattern is there, not divert from it, making a true mess of it…
I guess it’s a bit difficult..

Looking for:

5” parabolic reflector (for recoil light)

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Jerommel wrote:
Nice tool! I guess you roll the alu pipe between this and a wooden bench or plank? Or maybe it’s better on a hard surface, like a smooth tile, to keep that smooth (classy) surface, but checkered with inverted pyramids. I also guess it will, once the pattern is there, not divert from it, making a true mess of it… I guess it’s a bit difficult..

I’ve only spent a little time with the file so far. Basically, just put the light or the tailcap in a vise, then run the file over a section of it several times. Then unclamp the light, rotate it a little, line up the teeth with the previous grooves and repeat. Keep doing that until have gone all the way around the light.

Goal will be to convert the vertical lines on the bezel into square knurling. That will make it easier it easier to cycle the bezel. Fingers will slip less.

I’ll also add some grooves to the tailcap. It’s so short right now there’s not much to hold on to. Some lines or knurling will help.

I’m undecided on what to do with the curved center section. It looks classy and fits will in the hand, but isn’t grippy. I tend to like lots of knurling in my lights so they feel secure in the hand. The options are:

  • Leave center section as-is; or
  • Add square-cut knurling to the flat hourglass shaped portions on the top and bottom; or
  • File down the curved portions with a conventional file until it’s a cylinder. Then apply square-cut knurling to the cylinder. This option is the most risky and would take the most effort. But would also provide the best grip. It would also make the light look wildly different from the original light.

I have a second completely unmodded Aleto N8 on hand that I can scavenge for parts if I find I don’t like how a modification is turning out.

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Very nice file. You learn something new everyday. I don't know whether you know this or not so hope l'm not out of line. When using a file on a round surface the tip is pointing down around the radius of the work object and when pushed the file is rotated with the handle coming down and filed back towards you if that makes any sort of sense. Looking forward to see the finished product.

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure. Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unkowingly paid for by a hard working wife. Free plug for my daughter. http://missymupsnails.com.au

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Oops! Had a setback with this light last night.

I used the checkering file to make the vertical lines on the head into square knurling. Didn’t look quite as elegant as before, but was much easier to grip and cycle the zoom.

Then I decided to file down the curved fluted portion in the body into a cylinder and then apply knurling. Unfortunately that didn’t work well. Without the fluted portion of the body, the light looked unbalanced, was less aesthetically pleasing, and less comfortable in the hand. Even worse, without the extra aluminum from that portion, there was too little metal left in the body to properly heatsink the light. It got burning hot within seconds right where the hand sits when holding it. And then the driver would start to malfunction and the light couldn’t be turned off without removing the tailcap.

This was all caused by the removal of the extra body material. It worked perfectly before I tried that. Looks like this body tube is toast. Tired

My backup unmodded body tube is sitting in its Greased Lightning bath getting its anodizing removed Silly . Tonight I’ll work on modding it so I can get this light fully working again. This time, I plan fewer mods to the tube:

  • I won’t remove the front set of heatsink fins. The extra metal should provide some more leeway for heatsinking. This means the flood mode will be a tiny bit less wide, but since I’m hoping to replace the lens with a shorter focal length fresnel, that problem should fix itself.
  • I won’t file the fluted portion of the body. It provides necessary thermal mass and just looks and feels better.
  • I won’t file off the back 2 mm of the body tube near the tailcap. This will let the cap fully lock down even when using protected 18650s.
  • I will attempt to mount the new sideswitch a little further forward. However, if all goes well with my lens replacement I’ll likely need to dismount it and move it even further forward later.
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Whew! Got it working again with the new body.

Here’s a picture of the old body (top) and new body (bottom). Note that on the old body, I’d filed away the curved portion of the body just below the button in preparation with the goal of using the checkering file to add knurling. Around this point I discovered that I’d filed away too much of the metal and the body was now too light to dissipate the heat generated from the LED. I decided not to waste further effort and aborted the effort unfinished. I then decided to get a quick bit of practice with the checkering file before discarding the tube. As such, the checkering here is nowhere close to polished or even. photo 001-1.jpgOn the new body on the left you can see the portion of the heatsink I’d filed flat to make room for the switch, and the hole for the switch wire. Not visible in this picture is the flattened area between the hole and the heatsink fins to make room for an electrical contact under the sliding bezel.

Here’s a picture of the new body with kapton tape and tin strip.  photo 002-1.jpg The strip links the hole on the body to the switch. The front two legs of the switch will be soldered to the wide flat area of the tin strip on top of the heatsink. The bottom 2 legs will be bent down and press-fit into small holes that will be drilled where the 2 black dots are in the center of the heatsink fins. When the pill is screwed in the switch wire will be inside the battery tube, not too far from the hole. I then use tweezers to fish it out of the hole and rest it on the tip of the tin strip, which angles down into the hole. I then use a small 6-watt battery powered soldering iron to solder the wire to the tin strip. Final step is to take a small file and quickly file down any excess solder so the join is flat and then apply a piece of Kapton tape over the hole.

Here’s a picture with the switch soldered on:  photo 003-1.jpg I subsequently, inserted a piece of toothpick under the switch so it sits flat instead of being lifted up by the strip. On the first body, the switch was completely flat and used a small wire to connect it to the strip. I might go back to that method. It was a little more effort, but resulted in the switch being flatter on the light and meant slightly more pressure was required to activate the switch.

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Here’s a picture of the light with the replacement body.

I used the checkering file to convert the ribbed grooves on the head into square knurling and to add a ring of square knurling at the back.

Unlike the previous body, this one retains all 5 heatsink fins. I also left the interior of the battery tube slightly longer so it can use protected cells. I made a new switch cover that is held on with 4 screws.

! photo photo24.jpg!

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Wow, Firelight.  This is a fricken serious mod.  Really like the direction you are going with it.  I wish I had to guts to attempt what you're doing here.

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Location: Denmark

That is so well done! Bravo Smile

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

Werner
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Last seen: 1 day 14 hours ago
Joined: 10/19/2012 - 15:00
Posts: 3662
Location: Germany

The square knurling looks very good, well done.

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