Modding the DQG 18650 Tiny III into a triple

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Firelight2
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Modding the DQG 18650 Tiny III into a triple

Awhile back I purchased a DQG 18650 Tiny III clicky. This light has some impressive features. It’s the smallest 18650 light on the market. It has a very clever self-adjusting battery compartment with no springs. Instead the whole compartment changes length to accomodate different sized 18650s.

There were a few things I didn’t like about it though. The UI didn’t have a shortcut to max and left a lot to be desired. The maximum output was lower than the pocket rockets I’m used to. And the protruding sideswitch was easy to accidentally activate in the pocket. I decided to see if I could address these concerns through modding.

The bezel was held on with a small amount of clear threadlocker. It came off fairly easily using 3M rubber indoor stairway grip tape. With the bezel off, the TIR falls out revealing the driver.
 photo DQG 18650 bezel removed.jpg

To save space, this light has just a single board that contains both the driver and star. It’s at least 20mm wide. The switch is fully recessed into the head of the light and has 2 tiny wires connecting it to the driver. I decided to use the stock switch, but replace the driver with one from Mountain Electronics and make it a triple. Since the Carclo triple TIR is around 7mm shorter than the stock TIR, I figured there should be plenty of room for the new driver and the separate star.

Unfortunately, almost immediately I hit a major problem. I couldn’t remove the head from the body. They must’ve used a ton of threadlocker. I tried grip tape on both the head and body. When that didn’t work I used 2 sets of pliers on the grip tape. I also tried hot melt glue instead of grip tape. And I tried freezing it and using a hot air gun. Nothing worked. I think to separate those pieces will probably require heating the head and body to 350 degrees to melt the threadlocker, but doing so could destroy the switch and anodizing.

I gave up on removing the head and instead decided to drill out most of the stock driver and mount the new parts to its remains. First desoldered and removed the switch wires. I planned to reuse those. Then I touched a soldering iron against the side of the LED and heated till the LED popped off. Then I drilled a small hole in the center of the driver (from the top). I used a countersink bit to drill all the way through, then scraped off any remaining SMDs with a screwdriver and then finished it with a handfile. Here’s what it looked like:
 photo DQG 18650 driver bored.jpg

For negative contact my hope was that I could find a leftover trace on the stock driver that still connected to the body tube. If that didn’t work my plan was to drill a hole through the side of the tube and attach a wire bypass. Fortunately, I lucked out: I found a leftover via just below the switch button that according to my DMM had a clean negative contact to the body tube.

I decided to mount the new driver just below the old driver. I was using a BLF17DD driver with a flat bottom. I removed its spring and replaced it with a copper disk. Despite being mounted directly below the original driver, this didn’t actually reduce the size of the battery compartment as the original driver was much thicker. Checking my driver, I noticed that the outer pin of the MCU could actually sit right next to the negative contact via.

Before attaching the driver, I used arctic alumina to pot anything at the edges that I didn’t want to get accidental negative contact. Then I pressed it into position and used a few touches of arctica alumina from the sides to hold it into place. After that had cured, I soldered the via to the outer pin of the MCU and reattached the switch wires. I put a little Kapton tape over the switch wires to provide extra security.
 photo IMG_0402.jpg

I figured there was room for a small copper heatsink platform for the star to rest on. I laminated 3 pieces of copper sheet with solder and cut and filed them into shape. To keep the heatsink and star at the right height, I bent a piece of copper into a ring and rested it on the ledge formed from the remains of the stock driver. It took a little trial and error to get the copper ring to just the right thickness. I also had to file the star slightly so it would fit into the light. Here’s a picture of the star, heatsink and copper ring (the flat area in the heatsink and star is to provide clearance for the switch wires):
 photo IMG_0401.jpg

The light is currently equipped with triple XPG2 in 3 different tints. I used a Carclo 10507 optic. To get the optic to fit I had to slightly file down the outer edges of the optic’s legs.

Finally, I place a glass lens just in front of the optic. The opening in the bezel is exactly 20mm wide. Without a lens, a 20mm Carclo optic will fall out of this hole. I’d bought a 22 mm lens for this purpose from flashlightlens.com, but it proved to be slightly too wide. I used fine sandpaper to grind it down to 21mm. Then I screwed everything together. Here’s a picture of the assembled light next to an unmodified DQG 18650 clicky:
 photo IMG_0403.jpg

I still had the problem of the switch being too sensitive. To fix this I drilled a hole through a piece of 0.064” piece of aluminum sheet than filed it by hand to the right shape. I then epoxied this cover around the outer switch. It turned the protruding metal button into a deeply recessed one making accidental pocket activation very unlikely. Here’s a picture with the cover installed:
 photo IMG_0408.jpg

A side benefit is this cover acts as an antiroll device.

Stock DQG18650 on left, triple on the right:
 photo IMG_0404.jpg

Here’s another of the triple on left and stock on right (taken before I mounted the switch cover):
 photo IMG_0406.jpg

Three modified triples! Left is my Convoy S2+ mini with triple XPL running on 18500, middle is the DQG18650 mini clicky triple, right is a modded Sunwayman C20C with triple XPG2. All 3 lights have electronic switch FET drivers.
 photo IMG_0410.jpg

Same as above but with a Sipik 68 and Zebralight SC62w added to the picture.
 photo IMG_0409.jpg

I’m pretty happy with how this came out even though I dinged up the anodizing pretty badly trying to remove the head. At a guess I figure the modded DQG outputs 1700-2000 lumens max at turn-on, but it gets hot very fast at that setting.

Edited by: Firelight2 on 06/01/2015 - 03:32
djozz
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This is one of those mods where nothing fits, I can hear grinding sounds throughout the story, and blisters appearing on fingers :bigsmile:

It takes courage to mod DQG lights, great result, thanks for sharing.

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    Ok i'm impressed now ...... 

 

 

  stainless steel around the switch next time  Silly

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

                            

       Dc-fix diffuser film  >…  http://budgetlightforum.com/node/42208

Firelight2
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Boaz wrote:

   

    Ok i’m impressed now …… 

 

 

  stainless steel around the switch next time  Silly

I thought about that. Stainless steel would look better and it might be possible to find a washer close enough in size. However, the advantage of aluminum is I had it on hand and it’s softer – so much easier to file into an optimum shape. The inside of the cover tapers to the button so it’s like a funnel. And the outer edges are rounded to reduce the chance the cover will catch on something in the pocket. Still, I think I’ll check out the washers next time I head to the store. It wouldn’t be hard to swap the cover for a steel washer if I find one the right size.

Firelight2
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Thinking I might convert my other DQG 18650 Tiny III into a triple too. It has the advantage the body isn’t scuffed up and now that I know what to do the mod shouldn’t be very hard. First I’ll need to order another glass lens though.

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Nice mod. Love the persistence and the final outcome. Well done.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

Firelight2
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MRsDNF wrote:

Nice mod. Love the persistence and the final outcome. Well done.

Thanks.

I’m glad it worked out. I love the tiny size and grippy knurling of this light. It feels great in the hand. It just needed a better UI, more output, and less risk of accidental pocket activation.

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Firelight2 wrote:
MRsDNF wrote:

Nice mod. Love the persistence and the final outcome. Well done.

Thanks.

I’m glad it worked out. I love the tiny size and grippy knurling of this light. It feels great in the hand. It just needed a better UI, more output, and less risk of accidental pocket activation.

So this is what Boba Fetts flashlight would look like…

Even with the “damage” you did in attempting to get the head off, you still turned out a fine mod. This is very impressive, and if you cannot get the head off, with your skills, methinks no one will. I was looking at small finish washers to protect the switch on my Tiny III 18650, your aluminum cover looks very much like what I envisioned a properly sized finish washer would do for mine. I would try hot glue to hold mine on first….

Once again, very nicely done mod, I would love some 30 foot beamshots against the original if you have time. Great job.

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I replaced the homemade switch plate with a filed down #6 finishing washer. Definitely looks better. I’ll try to get a picture up tomorrow.

Also been trying a QTC pill between the tailcap and battery. This light is superbright without the QTC but gets offly burny on the fingers. Like too hot to touch in 15 seconds or so. And even at 50% power too hot in maybe 30 seconds. The QTC pill reduces output and solves that problem.

Would probably be better to use a non-FET driver of maybe 3-4 amps. Unfortunately, a Nanjg 105C is quite a bit thicker than the BLF17DD and I don’t really want a longer light. That and I like the moonlight mode.

Or perhaps I should try thinner wires between the driver and star. I’m using standard 22 gauge. Maybe I should opt for extra small wires in the hope it will generate more resistance and help keep the output to a more practical level.

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I made a few other changes to this light:

  • I replaced the 3 mismatched LEDS with 3 XPG2 4000K 5A2 tint. Gives a beautiful slightly warm tint with no green. I really like this tint. Previously, the 3 LEDs I had in the light consisted of one with 5A2 tint, one with 3C tint, and one with 1A tint.
  • replaced the Mountain Electronics Driver with a Nanjg 105C with DrJones Mokkadrv firmware. Added 4 extra 7135 chips for 4.5 amps. The old driver was producing something like 7 or 9 amps on a fresh cell on turbo. The head got too hot to touch within 15 seconds or so. It felt somewhat dangerous. And after I left it on too long on high, the driver actually suffered some damage and lost access to the 2 lowest modes including moonlight. Perhaps the 7135 chip burned out and only the FET was still working (the 3 higher modes all still worked).

The new driver limits current to 4.5 amps. It gets hot, but never too hot to hold as long as it is held in the hand. Much safer. Output is lower, but still quite respectable. I figure maybe 1100-1300 lumens compared to 1700-2000 with the FET. I also really like the simple Mokkadrv interface. Single click from off to turn on at max. Single click from on to turn off. Long click from off turns on at minimum. Long click from on cycles modes between low, medium, and max. Double-click activates strobe. No mode memory.

New driver has a couple downsides though. Due to the row of 7135 chips on the bottom, it’s thicker than the old one. This makes the light approximately 1-2mm longer with battery installed. Also, it doesn’t have as big a range of output as the old driver. The high isn’t as high, and the low isn’t moonlight.

  • I replaced the aluminum button shroud with #6 finishing washer. I expanded the opening in the washer with needle nose pliers (insert pliers into opening, then expand the jaws of the pliers) and then filed the bottom and inside of the hole to fit. The new nickel-plated brass shroud matches the steel bezel and switch button much better. The light looks like it was manufactured with it as part of the switch. It doesn’t look like an add-on at all.
JohnnyMac
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Awesome job on the light!  I'm impressed! Smile

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Any more pictures?!

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Using a finishing washer around the switch worked way better than the cut aluminum sheet I originally used. The finishing washer looks like the light was manufactured with it!
 photo IMG_0416.jpg
 photo IMG_0415.jpg

Here’s what I did:

  1. I started with a #6 nickel plated brass finishing washer.
  2. The opening in the washer was too small for the button. I inserted needle nose pliers then expanded the jaws to widen the hole. At first this made the washer oval shaped, so I rotated and repeated until the washer was circular and the opening was much wider.
  3. It still wasn’t quite wide enough though. I inserted a round needle file and filed the inside of the washer till it was sufficiently wide.
  4. The washer was too tall. I couldn’t press the button with finger. I filed the bottom of the washer with a hand file until it was short enough that I could easily press it with a finger or thumb, but not too far… I still wanted a raised ridge around the button to prevent accidental pocket activation.
  5. I glued the washer using some conductive silver epoxy I had on hand. Alternatively, I’d use arctic alumina epoxy. I paid special attention to make sure there was epoxy below the washer on all sides. I didn’t want it getting caught in my pocket and having the washer ripped off. Before I put on the epoxy I wrapped the entire light in black gaffers tape except for a small opening at the switch. That way I didn’t have to worry about epoxy accidentally getting spread to other parts of the light.
  6. After the epoxy cured I trimmed it, making sure the portion below the sides of the washer was vertical. I also removed excess epoxy from inside the knurling near the button.
  7. I then painted the epoxy to match surrounding anodizing, using acrylic hobby paint. I used grey primer mixed with some tan and medium metalizer to get as close a match as possible. I shaded the paint to be slightly darker at the top and bottom.
  8. To protect the paint I brushed on a layer of liquid super glue.
  9. After the super glue dried I brushed a layer of dullcoat on to reduce the sheen.

Note: the above pictures are the switch mod done to an otherwise unmodified DQG Tiny III. I’ll likely destroy the internals on this one and transfer over the internals from my completed Tiny III triple. That way I’ll have a triple without a scratched up body.

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Firelight2 wrote:
I’ll likely destroy the internals on this one and transfer over the internals from my completed Tiny III triple. That way I’ll have a triple without a scratched up body.

WTH man… these things are not growing on trees… Seriously, I like the light with damage, it makes it look like you kicked someones A$$ with it, or you used it to secure your climbing rope on K2 when you ran out of chocks or, well, you get the point…..

On the ulterior motive side, I want to see what you do the second time around on one of these…

And the finish washer mod looks great, I like the epoxy trimming and painting to match, seriously nice work. I did this with a stainless steel #6 finish washer, and have not put it on yet, but I can guarantee the stainless was MUCH harder than the brass. I still have a flat spot on the tip of one of my filing fingers…

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Heh.

I went ahead anyways and tried to mod my second DQG Tiny III. Ran into a problem though and still haven’t been able to figure out what’s causing it.

The mod seemed to go off without a hitch. I performed all the steps as per the previous mod. But something isn’t working right!

The driver works fine. All modes work perfectly. But when the light is off, the LEDs will still light up in a low moonlight mode. This won’t happen right away. After I do the driver install and screw it all back together. Then after 10 minutes or so it flickers in off mode then turns on with that low moonlight. Only doing a tailcap lockout disables it.

So far I haven’t been able to isolate the cause. I tried:
1. Building and installing an alternate identical driver, with completely different driver and switch wires.
2. Checking positive and negative leads on the star to verify there’s no accidental ground connection.
3. Repeatedly scraping the bottom of the remains of the stock MPCB and checking to be sure I didn’t miss any SMDs.

But so far nothing works! I don’t think it’s the driver. The driver I’m using doesn’t even have a low moonlight mode. Also I tried a duplicate driver and still got the unintended moonlight. And the same driver works fine in my other DQG host without this problem.

I’m at a loss to figure out what the problem is though. Could it be the switch? Perhaps the switch is defective and leaving a high resistance connection even in off mode? Not sure how that would cause the LED to light up though. Also, how is the LED lighting up when the driver is off when the only connection to positive is by going through the driver? And why only in this host and not the other identical one?

Anyone have any ideas? I’m thinking the next thing to try is to bypass the switch and see if that removes the unintended moonlight. If that’s the case then, I’ll have to see if I can replace the switch… could be difficult as I’m not sure how to get it out.

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what driver and firmware are you using?

My Favorite Modded Lights: X6R, S8 , X2R , M6, SP03

Major Projects:  Illuminated Tailcap, TripleDown/TripleStack Driver

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pilotdog68 wrote:
what driver and firmware are you using?

Nanjg 105c with 4 extra 7135 chips added (12 total). Firmware is DrJones Mokkadrv.

I find it rather odd that this unintended “moonlight” only appears when the driver is used in one host and not the other.

And I don’t think it’s a fault in the driver construction, as a I built a duplicate driver that had the same exact problem… but only when used in the one host.

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hmm I’ve seen weird things with e-switches on dual channel drivers, but I’m afraid I can’t be much help on the Nanjg

My Favorite Modded Lights: X6R, S8 , X2R , M6, SP03

Major Projects:  Illuminated Tailcap, TripleDown/TripleStack Driver

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GADzoooks!Surprised

ReManG
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I would bypass the switch, if that doesn’t work, then another driver (or swap it in from the old Triple cubed) . In my experience with trailer lights, it is ALWAYS the ground if you hooked up the wires in the right order. I don’t know if that applies here though… The switch may have some issues with that specific driver, sometimes the tolerances do not stack in our favor….

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I think I figured out the problem.

Keeps fingers crossed hoping I got it right

For the bottom of the driver I was using a copper post made of 3 pieces of sheet copper layered on top of each other. I don’t think I made the post quite high enough so with flat top cells part of the cathode might’ve been touching the tops of the lower layer of 7135 chips or possibly the resistor. Not sure if that’s the issue, but I noticed the light worked better with button top cells.

I stuck the remains of the foam ring that was on the underside of the original driver around the copper post and now it seems to work fine. Hopefully it will continue to do so.

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After insulating everything possible with arctic alumina or Kapton tape I fixed the problem with the unintended moonlight. I also discovered and fixed a loose ground connection from the driver to the body.

Trouble-shooting this was an exhaustive process. The leadwires and bondpads on the star are really showing wear. There’s a real risk that with too many more desolders I might have to install fresh driver wires. I might even need to reflow to and grind down a fresh star.

I discovered another problem. The switch PCB seems to be press-fit from the inside of the light. Somehow it got pushed down making the switch take an excessive amount of force to operate. I pushed it back up and used arctic alumina to fix it in place. Unfortunately, I got a little too enthusiastic with the probe pushing it in and think I damaged one of the vias through the board to the switch. Result is the switch in the unscratched host no longer works! GRRRR.

I’m not sure any of the microswitches I have on hand will fit. I’m going to have to see if I can pry out the PCB and install a different switch, or maybe bypass the PCB. Oh well… task for another day.

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Took the host with the broken switch and tried to remove the switch.

Prying it out from the inside didn’t work. I ended up completely destroying and removing the switch mechanism… everything up to the metal cover cap. I did come across a thin rubber membrane inside the switch mechanism. I think this does mean the stock switch is waterproof.

Not so the replacement switch I’m going to try to install though…

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Finally got it all working in the new unscratched host.

4.5 amp DrJones Mokkdrv driver
3x XPG2 neutral 4000k 5A2 tint.

After destroying the original switch I had to install a replacement switch. I glued a small micro momentary switch I had on hand in the pocket where the original switch went with arctic alumina. Was a pain to get working after I accidentally ripped one of the contacts off, but it works now. All modes function fine. The new switch has a softer touch and is more responsive than the old switch. The old one didn’t always function even when I felt it click. New one always functions with a click.

This light still has a downside though: Now that I have everything working I’m thinking 4.5 amps is too much! At max power it gets hot quite fast. Too hot to touch in 1 minute or so. Thinking I might strip off 2 or 3 of the 7135 chips.

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I am in awe of your persistence sir….

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Great stories again, the failures and subsequent repairs sound all too familiar exept that I am not half as persistant as you are!

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djozz wrote:

Great stories again, the failures and subsequent repairs sound all too familiar exept that I am not half as persistant as you are!

Thanks. Took a lot more time and effort than I thought it would.

Near the end I was thinking I’d have to make a fresh star. The pad for the positive wire was no longer even visible. Its inner edge had already rubbed off long before and I’d covered that portion of the pad with arctic alumina to prevent getting a short to ground. Unfortunately, the outer portion of the pad was now no longer visible either. I couldn’t get the solder to stick without a visible pad.

For the first time I tried using solder paste in the area where the pad was. That actually worked. It cleaned off the gunk around the pad and created a solid bond. My bondwires are looking raggedy though. Hopefully I won’t wear through them removing the driver to take off 7135 chips.

On the upside, the outside of the light looks absolutely pristine and it works great (except for being a little too high current).

The thin glass lens I was using in front of the Carclo optic cracked. I was worried that would happen as it was very thin and had a lot of pressure on it with no o-ring. I was also concerned it might shatter if the light fell bezel first. I ended up removing it and replacing it with a much thicker coated acrylic lens.

Ordinarily this would have prevented the bezel from screwing on because the new lens was so thick. But I modified the lens by filing down a ring on the outer edge. Result is the lens is quite thick, but the portion under the bezel ring is quite thin.

This actually makes the optic look more balanced in the light because the Tiny III’s stock TIR lens was built in a similar manner: with a flat ring going under the bezel slightly back from the front surface of the lens.

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Problem solved.

The issue I was having with the light not turning off was caused by a bad ground connection. The driver was soldered directly to a leftover trace from the stock driver. However, the new driver was flexing or moving slightly each time the battery was installed and this was putting stress on the trace. I added more arctic alumina to help anchor the new driver in place, and changed the ground connection from direct solder to a small jumper wire to allow for flexing. Light has worked flawlessly since.

I’m currently running it with DrJones Mokkadrv in a Nanjg 105c with 10×7135 chips. Gets quite hot to touch at the head after a bit, but not quite burning hot.

I think I should order some of the new 2015 Mokkadrv. I’ll bump up output back to 12×7135 and use the configurable turbo timer in that version.

I was planning to convert many of my triples to CREE high-intensity XPL, but I think this one isn’t a good candidate for it. At 3.8 amps, I don’t think it draws enough current for the XPL to make much of a difference over XPG2.

Or I could change the driver to a custom FET from RMM with special modes. Perhaps 100% with configurable turbo timer, followed by ramp down to 25 or 30% (50% is too high), and then have other modes below 30%. That way I could have ridiculous lumens (probably 3000+) for something like 10 seconds before the turbo timer drops output down to 1200 lumens or so.

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Actually, as much as I like Mokkadrv, I have to admit the idea of installing a FET driver that gives ridiculous lumens for 10 or 15 seconds sounds pretty appealing.

Guess I’ll have to check with RMM to see if he can program the turbo timer to ramp down to less than 50%. With a FET driver and a Samsung 25R even 50% is too much for this light.

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Firelight2 wrote:
Actually, as much as I like Mokkadrv, I have to admit the idea of installing a FET driver that gives ridiculous lumens for 10 or 15 seconds sounds pretty appealing.

Guess I’ll have to check with RMM to see if he can program the turbo timer to ramp down to less than 50%. With a FET driver and a Samsung 25R even 50% is too much for this light.

You sound like you are on to something, that would be a jaw dropper to pull out the Tiny III and pop ~3000 lumen off, then casually drop it back to 800 or so to finish looking around… Turbo from off would make that thing a good option for disengaging from anyone not wearing a welders helmet at night… Let us know what you decide on and how it works out. Fantastic thread for me so far…

cajampa
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Location: Sweden

Besides thinner wires & an extra short turbo timer, you can also use a high capacity battery like 3200-3500mha for a longer running time AND a more contained heat profile.

I plan to use all of these ways to build a hopefully well managed, but very bright FET driven EE A6 XP-L triple in the future Wink

To use a really strong high drain battery like the Samsung 25R, is almost asking for overheat issues in very small triple 18650 lights.

Also i hear that a triple XP-L is a cooler option than the XP-G2, because you don’t run the XP-L’s as close to the limit, and you get more output also Smile

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