D.I.Y. Easy low amp triples for Convoy S2+, no spacer, no drilling....

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ReManG
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D.I.Y. Easy low amp triples for Convoy S2+, no spacer, no drilling....

I have been interested in triples since I saw them here on BLF. What is not to like? Three LED’s in parallel, lots of light, changeable optics, huge output… Like I said, what is not to like? I also like smaller lights, favoring the 18350 size over the 18650 for carry, but unfortunately, this comes at the expense of runtime as the 18350’s are not as power dense as the 18650’s….

So if you cannot bring up runtime with your battery, you will have to lower output…. So how low is low? What level is high not impressive enough or bright enough? What level do you really need? How much runtime is essential? Plenty of questions, plenty of answers, this thread is my view on these questions. Some of the things to keep in mind is that Lumen are not linear in their visual output. Double lumen does not look twice as bright… So going backwards and lowering amps does not dim as much visually as you would initially think.

This started with a BLF A6 driven triple I built. It was bright, but actually not that much brighter than the BLF A6…. I would say 35-40% more visible light. I knew, in theory, pulling just at 9A the XPG2 S4 2B triple would be around 3000 lumen, but it was not that big of a VISIBLE jump. I have seen it here on BLF that you have to TRIPLE the lumen to look twice as bright visually, so the 1500 lumen BLF A6 would be visually doubled by a 4500 lumen light…

Hmmmm… what to do with a triple now? I like the beam profile for up close, but why carry an 18650 sized light for up close work? Too heavy to use the hat-brim or cigar methods (in your mouth) for hands free light with an 18650, the leverage works against you from the length of the light… Must downsize triple to 18350 host…

I moved the FET triple into a S2+ 18350 sized host and was happy with it as a show off light. The runtime was abysmal. I was charging the thing daily if I was out poking around and marveling at the output. It got hot too… The 60 second turbo timer I got from RMM on the drivers was too long. 30 seconds was plenty hot… I ordered a 3.04A Qlite flashed with guppydrv for the adjustable turbo timer to fix the heat issue. Had to get another spacer for the build as well, the next host was waiting, another S2+ shorty.

The Qlite was impressive, still a lot of light, now “only” about 1300 lumen. I liked the adjustable turbo timer. Ironically, with only 3A, now I could set it for 60+ seconds and it worked fine without too much heat to hold. On group 18 in guppydrive universal, the modes are ML, 5%, 15%, 50% and 100%. The 50% was most of what I used for “high” as it had a pretty good runtime for the light it put out… 3A out of a 750mah Keepower gives you about 15 minutes of theoretical runtime, so 50% gives you about 30 minutes…

3A gives you around 1300 lumen, 1.4A should be around 500+ lumen, still a lot of light for most uses and on a 18350 gives you just over 1/2 hour of light on high. I found some AK-101-A1 1.4A drivers I had ordered a while back from Fasttech. With a blob of solder, they are three mode drivers. I figured I would give them a shot. They are single sided, so all that I had to do was solder on a spring. They are also able to use the retaining ring on the S2+ host, so no having to solder in the driver, I dislike soldering in a driver. I fitted one to the S2+ pill and made my low amp triple.

Using a Keepower 750mah 18350 gives the following levels and runtimes: Low is 5% or about 70ma which gives about 10.5 hours runtime, enough to use as a nightlight, maybe 10-20 lumen. Mid is 30% or about 420ma which should give about 1.75 hours runtime and about 200 lumen. This is enough light and time to change a tire and signal oncoming cars, take a long walk, etc… High is 500+ lumen and 30 minutes of runtime, depending on the LED’s used. This is still a pretty good amount of light in an 18350 format. Using an 18650 sized host and a 2500mah battery the run times go up to about 35 hours on low, almost 6 hours on medium and 1.75 hours on high, pretty big increase if you have an 18650 host!

Now on to the fun part. I kept looking at how to bugetize the triple build. You have to buy the triple LED, so the cost is more than a regular emitter swap… You have to buy a spacer and optics, the spacer moves the MCPCB and optics up enough to mate with the O ring where the lens/reflector was and still keep the driver spring in contact with the battery. Basically the cost over a build with a single emitter was the higher cost of the triple LED MCPCB, the spacer and optics… You also have to drill a hole in the middle of the pill to pass the wires through. The triple LED board has the wires come from the center to the solder pads, instead of the edges like a regular single emitter board. What could I do without?

This low amp build did not get warm at all… The heat was just not being generated at a rate to heat up the light from the outside… even on high. Looking into the head of the S2+ the threads for the pill go pretty far in, about .5” from the front of the light. The parts not used in a triple build are the reflector and the lens. I thought about using the reflector and filing it down as the spacer, but decided against it. I just put the Noctigon directly on top of the pill. There is a 2mm wide rim around the top of the pill that this sits on, should be sufficient for what little heat will be transferred at 1.4 A… Now there is also a plus to this as the pill no longer needs a hole drilled in the center! Simply route the wires through the side holes, bend them 90 degrees and run them to the center of the pill and up through the center hole in the Noctigon.

THE STACK UP

Compared to stock pill stack

No spacer needed, no hole to be drilled, this saves about $5 for an aluminum spacer or $10 for the copper one. Plus the time to drill the pill, or if you want you can drill it, either way works… To get the space built up in the front of the light, reuse the lens in front of the optics. The only leftover from this build is the reflector. I have taken to using a glass lens in front of the optics in my triple builds anyway as I can torque down on the pill without breaking the optic… The lens, then optics, then Noctigon on top of the pill allows the pill to screw tight and if you are using a long enough spring, no issues with the battery losing contact. I had to stretch the first spring I used, it was slightly too short. I pulled one of an old P60 driver I had, it was about perfect. A standard Qlite spring would be too short, just a heads up.

Now for some BeamShots

Left= 1.4A S4 2B XPG2 Center= 1.4A Nichia 219C 5000K Right=Qlite 3A Nichia 219C at 50%

Left= 1.4A S4 2B XPG2 Center= 1.4A Nichia 219C 5000K Right=Qlite 3A Nichia 219C at 100%

Outdoors Beamshots
Order is:
Qlite 3A Nichia 219C at 50%
Qlite 3A Nichia 219C at 100%
1.4A XPG2 S4 22B at 100%
1.4A Nichia 219C 5000K at 100%

Really not much difference visually, the pictures show less, but pictures are hard to replicate for brightness.

The lower Vf LED’s like the Nichia 219C will be more efficient than what I listed with the XPG2’s, but you are not really going to have to worry about heat with the Noctigon and a 1.4A driver like you do with them in a FET build… Spring bypasses will increase the efficiency, but not the output significantly. In this case you will get more runtime than output increase with both springs bypassed, lowering resistance in the electrical path. I haven’t bothered to do spring bypasses yet.

Personally, Nichia 219C triple, a AK-101-A1 flashed with Guppydrv and the 10507 optics will run you $20 over your host cost ($10 to $15 for Convoys)to make one of these, these are all from RMM’s shop Mountain Electronics for this example. This is what I would do for an EDC in this set up. I like guppydrv and the 219C has a very nice tint. The traditional route with a spacer adds $5-10 and having to drill the pill.

The lowest cost option for trying this is from Kaidomain a 4C triple (not DTP) and the 1.4A AK 101 A1 from Fasttech. This would run you $10, and a few weeks of waiting for them to arrive, over your host cost.

Another use for this kind of set up is a hunting/Night vision light. You could set it up as a triple red, triple green, or triple blue LED light for your needs. Now you can even get S2+ in all of those colors from Simon at his store or other places… The original blue color is available as well… The three levels should give you plenty of options for light level even with the colored LED’s. The driver has Low Voltage Protection and would be good for a loaner light as well.

I have only done this in the Convoy S2+ long and short versions, so I do not know if any other hosts will screw in far enough to NOT use a spacer for a low amp triple. Good luck and thanks for contemplating a low amp triple, I like their advantages and I hope this inspires someone that does not have a triple to go and make one. If you get bored with the output, go buy a spacer and a FET Driver or Qlite and swap them out, you are a modder now….

EDIT: Updated OP With shopping list below

Abqjohnny wrote:
To make it easier still, can you make a shopping list? With possibly, links to RMM’s shop? That way we can see the items costs and total in a list format.

That is a great idea!

US stuff… Mountain Electronics links (non affilliated of course)

Triple mounted LED’s

Nichia 219B

Nichia 219C

XP-G2 S4 2B

XP-G2 S2 5A3

Driver (select your own firmware, I love me some guppydrv!)

Optics

Narrow

Narrow frosted

Medium

Wide

Elliptical shaped beam for bicyclists)

For International orders intl-outdoor.com

Driver

Optics Narrow only, the most useful one anyway in my opinion…

XP-G2 S2 2B

XP-G2 S3 3D

XP-G2 S2 5A3

Nichia 219B

Nichia 219C

The cheap route, but will take time for shipping

Driver Fasttech (my current staple driver, always good to have a few on hand)

Triple boards from Kaidomain, THESE COME WITH OPTICS

Nichia 219A

XP-G2 R5 4C

XP-G2 S2 1A

ALL of my links are non-affiliated for your pleasure...

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Edited by: ReManG on 01/17/2016 - 11:46
M4D M4X
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thanks for sharing!

sometimes its necessary to remember that 80% of the goal can be reached with half the effort.
and you are still satisfied.

 

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the best deals are waiting for YOU!

 

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18sixfifty
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Very nice build thread. I really like high cri nichia’s in triples.

I’m a junky, I mod lights so I can sell lights so I can buy more light to mod so I can sell lights to buy more lights to mod.

will34
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Nice mod, I have done the same as you but with a 16mm noctigon to fill the blank, soldered into the brass pill and sanded down to reveal the copper and then soldered the triple mcpcb on top. An extra step is required as the hole needs to be drilled.

bdiddle
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Without the spacer, and using a short springs and no glass lense, think you can fit an 18500? Likely, not, but it would boost runtime if it could be jammed in there.

Newb

kyfishguy
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You can indeed jam an 18500 into an S2+shorty host but the pill needs to be cut in half to gain the needed space.  Even then it's a pretty tight fit.

 

bdiddle wrote:
Without the spacer, and using a short springs and no glass lense, think you can fit an 18500? Likely, not, but it would boost runtime if it could be jammed in there.
ReManG
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will34 wrote:
Nice mod, I have done the same as you but with a 16mm noctigon to fill the blank, soldered into the brass pill and sanded down to reveal the copper and then soldered the triple mcpcb on top. An extra step is required as the hole needs to be drilled.

I almost went that route, but figured with only 1.4A I would try it the easy way. Your way will have some great thermal path with all that work. I think the Noctigons have done a majority of the work keeping LED’s cool, even just by themselves. I wouldn’t push a build like mine past 2A total anyway, so a 6×7135 driver would work too, but I have trouble finding longer springs that fit the double sided drivers.

can wrote:
Great post Small super bright triple’s seem to be all the rage with BLF modder’s now. The compromises of heat, battery life, cost, turbo timers also perceived brightness etc. are well explained here, more than any other post I remember. I don’t need one but I want one.

Just for the beam pattern for an EDC type light, I like the triples. Very good flood and still enough throw for everything but spotting a cat in a tree…

The super bright aspect is still available if you want, just buy a FET driver and a spacer later if you want to upgrade… But in a 18350 light the runtime will suffer… or you could transplant it to a18650 sized S2+ and go for broke….

Give it a shot can, the low cost option is $10 and a little waiting… make sure you get the parallel board from Kaidomain, they have a series one as well….

I just got a 36 minute runtime off the 219C version I built. This was with a SoShine “1000 mah” 18350. Once it rests, I will throw it on the Liilokala and see how many Mah it actually takes to recharge…

EDIT: 836mah on recharge after rest. This calculates to a .59 hour of runtime, about right considering the cell was 4.14V going into the test (had been sitting) and is now 4.21V after rest.

By the way, when holding these and using them, they only get a little warm…. The 219C version tailstanding for 20 min is pretty warm, but 30 seconds in your hand brings it down to just warm…

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Splott-Light
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ReManG,

Many Thanks for your informative and well written article.

Particularly appreciated the photo’s comparing the 2 pill assemblies.

Timely, as I was recently mulling over some of these points, as I have Convoy S2+ Hosts and some triples already made up.

You may well have motivated me to get some assembled now!

Cheers,
Splott-Light Smile

Ouchyfoot to a New Member: Welcome CJ. Now you have to learn about buying an inexpensive flashlight and modifying it until it either blows up, or starts small fires on the moon…………

Hugh Johnson:
I, too, once lived a tragic and empty life. Then I found [portable] light.
You forgot to mention clothes. I sold most of my clothes to fund my light collection. This is actually fine, since I only go out after dark, and most people can’t see me.
Finally, I got my priorities straight.

bdiddle
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What is the cheapest way to get an 18350 length triple host? I think Simon’s S2+ mini’s are the cheapest, are there any others?

Newb

ReManG
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bdiddle wrote:
What is the cheapest way to get an 18350 length triple host? I think Simon’s S2+ mini’s are the cheapest, are there any others?

I had been looking, but for the $10 or less you will spend on a S2+ host, you can’t go wrong…. The others all seem to require some work or finagling to get the parts to fit right, none of that with the convoy hosts, just drop the parts in…

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SciFiFreak
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I built mine very similarly and mentioned them here. In my case I soldered the triple to the pill. Heat transfer doesn’t seem to be a problem from the emitters to the host as it gets hot very quickly. I run FET+1s in them with no problems other than the usual heat-induced timing issue.

These seem to be one of the few mods I’ve done repeatedly that work out well.

Ouchyfoot
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I should find some cheap hosts. I’ve got a bunch of Luxeon Rebel triples I got for a song. They don’t take much power, 1A max, so a 3A quite would be more than enough to drive them. Add some big protected Panasonic 18650s and they would be great to have in a drawer for power outages. Lately I’ve been looking at my modded lights realizing that they would all blow up or run out of juice within twenty minutes, so I’ve been digging up my AA lights and charging my Eneloops…just in case.

Abqjohnny
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To make it easier still, can you make a shopping list? With possibly, links to RMM’s shop? That way we can see the items costs and total in a list format.

Ouchyfoot
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All I need are the hosts. I’ve had the triples for ever. I’ve got tons of Qlites I rarely use any more, and 18650s all over the place. All stuff that’s sitting around doing nothing. Once I build the lights, they’ll sit in drawers doing nothing.

ReManG
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Abqjohnny wrote:
To make it easier still, can you make a shopping list? With possibly, links to RMM’s shop? That way we can see the items costs and total in a list format.

That is a great idea!

US stuff… Mountain Electronics links (non affilliated of course)

Triple mounted LED’s

Nichia 219B

Nichia 219C

XP-G2 S4 2B

XP-G2 S2 5A3

Driver (select your own firmware, I love me some guppydrv!)

Optics

Narrow

Narrow frosted

Medium

Wide

Elliptical shaped beam for bicyclists)

For International orders intl-outdoor.com

Driver

Optics Narrow only, the most useful one anyway in my opinion…

XP-G2 S2 2B

XP-G2 S3 3D

XP-G2 S2 5A3

Nichia 219B

Nichia 219C

The cheap route, but will take time for shipping

Driver Fasttech (my current staple driver, always good to have a few on hand)

Triple boards from Kaidomain, THESE COME WITH OPTICS

Nichia 219A

XP-G2 R5 4C

XP-G2 S2 1A

Ouchyfoot wrote:
All I need are the hosts. I’ve had the triples for ever. I’ve got tons of Qlites I rarely use any more, and 18650s all over the place. All stuff that’s sitting around doing nothing. Once I build the lights, they’ll sit in drawers doing nothing.

Sounds like you need to start giving away some lights…. Hit up your local volunteer organizations like Rescue teams or Red Cross…. The pet shelter people need lights too… LOL, not my lights, so I have plenty of ideas….

Seriously though, I will have to take some of my own advice…

SciFiFreak wrote:
I built mine very similarly and mentioned them here. In my case I soldered the triple to the pill. Heat transfer doesn’t seem to be a problem from the emitters to the host as it gets hot very quickly. I run FET+1s in them with no problems other than the usual heat-induced timing issue.

These seem to be one of the few mods I’ve done repeatedly that work out well.

That is cool, I did not think of soldering the noctigon… I am not laying claim to this of course, I was just tickled that a 1.4A driver is sufficient for a decent EDC triple in the short S2+… Thought I would write it up to inspire others… Now I want to paint my optics too…

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Ouchyfoot
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I’m always waiting for a power outage, but it never seems to happen. I’m ready though. I have lots of eneloops powered lights to lend my apartment neighbors. They all come knocking at my door when they need lights. I don’t tend to lend out LiIons.

SciFiFreak
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ReManG wrote:
Now I want to paint my optics too…

I’m interested in any output gains you may notice. I worry a little about tint shift with different paint colors. Maybe silver on the cones and something else on the flat. How about a coating of glow-in-the-dark paint? That should blow away any mere o-ring.

Abqjohnny
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Perfect! Thank you!

ReManG
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SciFiFreak wrote:
ReManG wrote:
Now I want to paint my optics too…

I’m interested in any output gains you may notice. I worry a little about tint shift with different paint colors. Maybe silver on the cones and something else on the flat. How about a coating of glow-in-the-dark paint? That should blow away any mere o-ring.

If you look on the triple in the OP, there are big curves of the Glow On tape (strontium aluminate) and they leave much more glow than any Oring (see my avatar)…. The middle section is some of the Glow on paint in the center of the optics on the inside.

I have been experimenting with epoxy and strontium aluminate powder from THIS buyer on the ‘Bay and just mixing it in. It works, but I have less than a stellar record for getting epoxy where I want it and having it stay there before it sets… I have a feeling this would work for any clear drying glue… The greens and yellows are the brightest and longest glowing, if you are going to get some, the bags are small, but you do not need much to add to the epoxy or other clear glue. I think Epoxy is not best on the optics and will try some clear acrylic or water based craft paint when I get around to it.

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SciFiFreak
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Do you have any idea how the powder you referenced compares to this stuff on amazon?

ReManG
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SciFiFreak wrote:
Do you have any idea how the powder you referenced compares to this stuff on amazon?

From what I have read, the larger the grain size of the strontium aluminate, the better the glow… Up to some size of course. I do not think you will go wrong with the stuff you listed. I was looking for cheaper to play with the colors and so I selected what I linked. The Glow On brand paints are good too, but much more pricey. As long as the glow stuff is strontium aluminate, it should all be pretty darn good. I would try the paint version HERE if you did not want to mix your own, but the powder would go in any kind of glue that you mix it in, so that has its advantages too….

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Ouchyfoot
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ReManG. This thread got me going on a whole new line of projects. I started thinking, low amps and civilians with Li Ion batteries...this could solve some problems. Power failure = neighbors in my building coming to me for flashlights.

I won't lend out my moded Li Ion lights to civilians. You can explain about them getting hot and running down the cells fast, so should be turned down to lower modes.

Civilians = high mode...just high mode. Whatever you told them will be forgotten immediately and the whatever light they have will always be on high mode. It's a fact.

I always keep a supply of Rechargable AA lights as loaners. This way they can't hurt the lights, or themselves. This thread got me thinking about civilians and Li Ions. I found a couple cheap $3 S2 knockoffs me and ohaya picked up a couple years ago, along with clearance Luxeon rebels. ($3 cheapies really do cause more work than the real thing)

Anyway, to get back to the point, I took your advice and built two low amp lights. A single emitter @ .75A, and a triple @ 1.4A (neutral Luxeon rebels). These are the Li Ion lights that I will lend to civilians. Lots of illumination without heat and power drain. I have them loaded with 3400 protected cells. I also discovered that I love frosted optics for indoor illumination. Nice even light without an annoying hotspot. There's not much real difference between the triple and the single. Maybe a bit wider spill. I might try some of the wider angle optics as well...in frosted.

Back to the civilians. I've ordered a bunch of those magnets that fit in the tail of convoy type torches, so I can locate two or three lights magnetically to existing ceiling fixtures, providing low amp illumination throughout the apartment. I would also supply them with an AA "walking around light. I have a bunch of convoy S2+, regular and shorties, on order, to build several more.

Of coarse, my own personal indoor ceiling mounted illuminators will be highly modded because I'm responsible, andknow how to use modes, but the civilian loaners will be 1A with protected cells.

My, that Ouchyfoot can really keep yakking, can't he.

I really like those luxeons for indoors, I might order some newer type rebels to try out. I'm going build some of these with nichias and osrams too. If you have a power failure, you might as well have nice lighting instead of just walking around the house with a bright hot spot.

 

 

Realy cheap $3 host flashlight. I don't recommend them. Way too much work adapting them for anything. Just ask ohaya, he'll vouch for me.

 

A filed down noctigon so I could fit a 20mm star. The luxeons were on non DTP aluminum boards, and the pill just drops into the empty head, so a little extra copper doesn't hurt, even at 1A.

 

This board is designed for series, so I removed the linking resisters so I could rewire in parallel.

 

The only way I could make things fit was to drill a hole through the center of the triple board and bring the wires up the center.

Note the wire in the front that's not soldered to the pad. (I picked up my new glasses three hours after this pic was taken. Did most of the soldering with one eye closed so as not to see double)

As usual, before installing, I hooked the triple up to a battery to make sure it worked. Of coarse, when testing LEDs, you face them away so as not to blind yourself. Okay, it worked. 

After I took this picture and saw that front wire, I hooked it up again and sure enough, only two emitters running. With triples in parallel, sometimes you have to blind yourself to make sure all three are running. Taking this picture saved me a lot of work.

 

Nice and frosty.

 

The end results. Real nice lighting at low amps. Waiting for my tail magnets so they'll become real ceiling fixtures.

single @ .7A  &  triple @ 1.4A

Okay ReManG, thanks for letting me blather for so long in your thread...but...you started it.

ReManG
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Ok, now that is some good stuff right there Ouchyfoot! I like the idea of the loaner lights for emergencies and I too would feel comfortable doing that with LiIon in these low amp triples. The idea for the magnets on the tail to attach to the ceiling fixtures is excellent, it would also work for the metal registers for the HVAC and would allow much better light direction than just putting it on a table or wherever.

This is the kind of motivation I had hoped to inspire, thanks!

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Muto
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I just received a package from KD and got the Nichia’s and the XP-G2 R5-4C triples that you recommended.
Installed the Nichia into a Convoy S2+ and put the XP-G2 into a cheap Ultrafire S5

I am just running the stock 2.8 amp driver in the Convoy and it works real well, I usually use medium anyway so I am at the 1.4 amp mode and still have high for a short burst. Amazed at how well the heat transfers even over that small ledge. Used thin layer of Arctic Silver.

The S5 also is using the stock driver but with upgraded wires. Pulls 1.29 amps high, crappy 5 mode with next mode so that will have to go in the future.
But all in all a dandy little light for under $12 for all parts and host.

Thanks for the great idea. It looks like this setup may also work in the Thorfire TG18 and the Trustfire TR801

Love those low budget BLF Mods:)

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giorgoskok
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Give that S5 a new driver !

Ordered too some triples from KD , and one is going to be a low amp one Wink

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SciFiFreak wrote:
ReManG wrote:
Now I want to paint my optics too…

I’m interested in any output gains you may notice. I worry a little about tint shift with different paint colors. Maybe silver on the cones and something else on the flat. How about a coating of glow-in-the-dark paint? That should blow away any mere o-ring.


Don’t paint the optic. TIR depends on a clean, uncontaminated surface with zero contact. Anything touching will allow light to transmit through the parabolic surface at that point of contact rather than reflecting off. Better to mix the glo powder with epoxy and paint the mcpcb or interior of the host head. It would increase output slightly to also ream the bezel to allow more of the optic to show since it’s slightly covered where the reflector surface isn’t.

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Rufusbduck wrote:
Don’t paint the optic. TIR depends on a clean, uncontaminated surface with zero contact. Anything touching will allow light to transmit through the parabolic surface at that point of contact rather than reflecting off. Better to mix the glo powder with epoxy and paint the mcpcb or interior of the host head. It would increase output slightly to also ream the bezel to allow more of the optic to show since it’s slightly covered where the reflector surface isn’t.

TIR does depend on the boundary interface between optical layers. Since the optics aren’t terribly expensive maybe somebody with one of those new integrating spheres can actually test this?