Mod - Sipik 58 with LED Lenser optic (picture heavy)

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Firelight2
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Mod - Sipik 58 with LED Lenser optic (picture heavy)

Had an old ummodded Sipik 58 laying around. Actually not even sure if it’s a real Sipik 58. It doesn’t say Sipik on it … might be a clone.

The Sipik 58 is a great light. It’s basically a Sipik 68, but fully knurled, smaller and with a more tubular shape better for pocket EDC. Until the #3 lights came out, the Sipik 58 was the smallest common AA sized zoom light available.

LED Lenser type optic
I decided to upgrade this light with an LED Lenser style lighthouse optic. LED lensers have a two-element optic consisting of a small aspheric lens in the center, coupled with a TIR at the edges. They have a wide deep pocket in the center in the back of the optic for the LED to retract into. In all zoomable LED Lensers except the 1xAAA ones, the LED is mounted on a raised post. The purpose of the post is to raise the LED enough so that the optic can surround it in both flood and spot positions.

A typical cheap zoomie with an aspheric lens can lose 50% or more of the LED’s total lumens when the light is cycled to spot mode. The LED emits its light in a wide cone, and in spot mode the lens is far enough from the LED that much of that cone hits the side of the bezel and is wasted. Since an LED Lenser optic surrounds the LED in all modes, this isn’t an issue. Output in lumens can be similar in both flood and spot.

Sourcing the new optic
First I needed a source of LED Lenser style optics. Spending $50+ for an LED Lenser just for the optic is a bit much. Coast lights can be had for around $10 with a similar optic, but I don’t like them because Coast intentionally chose to have different focal points for the two zones in the optic, greatly limiting throw.

Fortunately, I found this light at my local OSH for $8.99. The light itself is junk, but inside is an LED Lenser style optic with both zones at the same focal point. It’s every bit as good as the optics found on a $50+ Lenser. Incidentally, this optic is the same width as that in the Coast HP1 and would be a good choice if you want to upgrade that light. The focal length is longer than the HP1, so some modification to the housing or pill would be necessary, but you should be able to use the stock lens mount and post and wouldn’t have any issue aligning the lens and pillar.

Here’s a picture of the Sipik 58 clone with bezel off (lens removed) next to the stock bezel and the new LED Lenser style optic.

Mounting the optic

  • New optic was wider at the top than the stock 18mm aspheric lens and wouldn’t fit into the light. I broke out the power drill with my favorite grinding bit and went to town on the inside of the bezel.
  • After grinding it down I painted the inside of the bezel with black acrylic hobby paint. This paint isn’t very durable or heat resistant, but it’s “good enough” for this purpose where it won’t be exposed to friction on the outside of the light.
  • Mounting the optic was a pain. I tried press-fitting it, which worked… until I dropped the light and it popped out. I ended up using grey stuff epoxy at the top edges of the bezel to keep it in place. First I tried putting the grey stuff just inside the bezel… bad idea. It made a mess of the optic when I tried to mount it. I scraped that out and got it mounted, but it looks a bit messy. I may stop by OSH to see if they have any more of these cheapie lights so I can try replacing the optic again.
  • Next step was to center the optic. Unlike typical aspherics, LED Lenser optics are very sensitive to orientation. If not completely centered you’ll get reduced throw and a bad beam pattern in spot mode as the hotspots from both elements fail to light up. I took my “best guess” and eyeballed it.

Building the pillar – Since the original light did not use an LED Lenser optic, there was no pillar for the LED. Without a pillar, the optic cannot surround the LED and can’t fully enter flood mode. I use a relatively simple and easy to build pillar of my own design. This is the second time I’ve built a pillar using this method.

  • I cut 4 strips of copper. Each strip is about as wide as an XPG emitter:
  • I took two of the strips and spread a thin layer of arctic alumina epoxy along one side to serve as an insulator. I let that cure, then I added more arctic alumina and stuck a second piece of copper to the first, creating two pairs:
  • Let that cure and glued the two pairs to each other with a small amount of arctic alumina. This created a sandwich of 4 layers of copper, with the outer 2 layers electrically insulated from the inner layers.
  • Let it cure and filed the ends of the sandwich down to reveal the bare copper. This sandwich is the new pillar.
  • I added solder paste to a standard 16mm Noctigon and stood the pillar on its end on the bondpads. The strips making up the pillar align with each of the bondpads for electrical connection.
  • I added solder paste to the top of the pillar and sat the LED onto the top, again making sure each bondpad aligned with the appropriate strips on the star.
  • Then it was just like a typical reflow: with the star in a wooden vise, heat the underside with my soldering iron until the solder at both the top and bottom of the pillar melted.

I like this pillar design because:

  • Absolutely nothing hangs off the sides of the LED. The entire pillar, including electrical connections to the LED sits inside the LED footprint. There are no wires or cut down star hanging off the side to possibly rub against the optic.
  • Heat conduction is excellent. Both the LED and pillar are soldered directly to the star and the pillar is mostly copper.
  • It’s not hard to adjust. Pillar too long? Reflow and remove it and file it down. Pillar not straight, remove and file the bottom, etc.

The star with pillar and LED mounted:

Mounted into the light: Note that the white retaining ring is just for decoration. The star is actually screwed down to the copper heatsink, which is itself glued to the inside of the pill with arctic alumina.

A considerable amount of tweeking and adjustment was needed to get it just right. My first attempt at the pillar was too long so I had to remove it and cut it down. It’s also quite hard to get the pillar to stand completely straight. Even now it’s not quite right.

Additional mods I performed on this light – Of course there isn’t much point in spending the time on a mod like this without also doing some basic mods for greatly increased power:
  • Driver upgrade – Replaced driver with 15mm FET driver with guppydrv firmware from Mountain Electronics.
  • Heatsink added – Added copper heatsink to hollow pill
  • Copper star added – Replaced stock 16mm aluminum star with copper Noctigon
  • Emitter upgrade – to XPL HI 3D

Tested it. It works! Still not my throwiest 1×14500 light, but much improved from stock.

Here are some more pictures
Lens on (flood mode):

Spot mode. Not too visible in this picture, because I think I held the camera too close to the flashlight. However, the entire visible front section of the lens is yellow showing that the focus is more or less correct.

Flood mode. Nowhere near as wide as the flood of some of my modded aspherics. On the other hand, it is still considerably wider than a stock Sipik 68. About the same width as a typical LED Lenser and much brighter.

Spot mode. Spot is quite wide, probably owing to the relatively short focal length compared to aspherics. It’s also fairly bright with decent throw. Much better than a Sipik 68.

Still to do and additional mods I’m considering:

  • Tweaking. Front edge of lens looks messy due to the epoxy that got behind the lens. I might try replacing this lens with a fresh one. Next time I’ll only apply epoxy from the front after the lens is in so no chance of anything getting to the back accidentally. Might also try tweaking the centering of the pillar a bit.
  • Tailswitch spring bypass. Tailcap is actually a Sipik 68 tailcap (looks better on the 58). Stock switch is likely the same as newer Sipik 68s: Usually a single module press-fitted into the tail. Only way to get these things out is usually to press on the back of the button really hard, which often destroys the rubber boot. If I want a spring bypass I may need to completely rebuild all tailcap internals.
  • Bore out body tube so it can fit an Efest 16500. More amps in the same amount of space; or
  • Install tailcap e-switch. This requires filing a slot on the inside of the body tube and then running a small wire along it for an e-switch in the tailcap. Then replace driver with moppydrv e-switch firmware. This is a pretty ambitious and difficult type of mod. I did a similar mod, also on a Sipik 58, several years ago and got mixed results. However, with that experience under my belt I have some ideas on how to make this system work better.
  • Remove anodizing and polish the bare aluminum. Sipik 58’s type II anodizing wears quickly and very rapidly looks like crap. However, polished Sipik 58s look beautiful.

UPDATE: I installed an e-switch in this light. See my build thread here .

Edited by: Firelight2 on 07/19/2016 - 23:27
M4D M4X
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great job

 

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Firelight2
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M4D M4X wrote:

great job

Thanks. Sipik 58s are fun to mod. Cool

Firelight2
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Stopped by OSH today and picked up a couple more of those 2xAA cheapies.

Seems to be a standard product for my local store. They had 10 or so on the rack. Very nice to find a cheap and convenient supplier of Lenser style optics. Innocent

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Nice…very nice!

Firelight2
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Did a bit more work on this light:

  • Removed the pillar and filed down the bottom slightly to better center it then reinstalled it. Alignment is much better now. The hotspot from both elements of the lens now overlaps regardless of how the bezel is rotated.
  • Redid the bezel. Removed the paint I’d added inside the bezel and polished the bare aluminum.
  • Installed a fresh lens (previous one was a bit gunked up with epoxy residue) paying special attention to the alignment and epoxy ring at the top of the light.
  • Colored the pillar and part of the star white with arctic alumina. This doesn’t help heat removal, but probably most of the heat is being lost through conduction through the star anyways and not radiation from the pillar into the optic compartment. This was purely for cosmetics to make the view inside the lens in flood mode with the light off look pretty (in flood mode the sides of the pillar fill the view of the TIR element).

Here are some pictures:

New lens installed.

White colored pillar:

“Prettified” view down the front:

djozz
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Very nice work, I like that beam! It would be nice if those optics were for sale sonewhere instead of having to harvest them.

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Beer I love that pillar. I dont know how you do these things as everything is so tiny. I could not hold them in my fingers let alone do what you did. Very nice job. Thanks for posting it up. Smile

 

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

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

 

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coool sky scraper LED mod i like it

Firelight2
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Pulled out the grinding bit and started grinding the interior of the body tube last night. Should finish the grind tonight. (No lathe … I make do with a grinding bit and a hand drill) So far looks good. I didn’t break through the body at the o-ring slot so I’m not expecting further trouble.

The Sipik 58’s body tube is quite thick. This is an advantage in that it increases durability and provides lots of extra mass for heatsinking. The downside is that the body tube is thicker than might be expected given the relatively small battery.

With the extra space inside the battery tube I plan to install a conductive sleeve. The sleeve will be insulated from the body with paint or maybe an index card. The goal is to provide an extra electrical connection from the head to the tail without interfering with the battery. Once that is done I’ll rebuild the tailcap internals installing an e-switch. If all goes well, the light will have a FET driver with moppydrv e-switch firmware and a tailcap e-switch instead of a clicky.

If there is sufficient space in the battery compartment after doing the e-switch mod, then it would be nice if I could fit an Efest IMR 16500 cell in, but I’m not sure there will be room. I’m still waiting for my 16500s to arrive so I cannot test that yet.

Hopefully the reduction of metal in the body tube won’t cause overheating issues.

Rufusbduck
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Friggin’ awesome mod Firelight, I love it. Great read with just the right mix of pics and text. Your pillar is a wonderful idea. Both Devcon 2-ton and JB weld can be cleaned up nicely with rubbing alcohol and Compound W Freeze Off comes with applicator tips that are great for lint free applications(box comes with way more than can be used), better than q-tips.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

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I’ll have to look at Osh for them. Anyone want me to grab extras?

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

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CRX does a really nice mod removing the ano and filling the knurling with darkened epoxy then sanding it off flush to the knurling, very sweet. I did some testing with it and found you can tint JB weld (or clear epoxy) with spray paint.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

Firelight2
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Nice.

I might end up removing the Ano on this light. I modded a Sipik 58 five years ago and it looked great with polished bare aluminum.

I also received some Birchwood Armory aluminum black earlier this week. Might experiment with that a bit.

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Cool build! Excellent idea with that pillar.

Firelight2
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Thanks. I’m very happy with how this pillar design has worked out. Crown

Today I finished boring out the battery tube. It’s now wide enough to hold a 16500 cell. Or a 14500 cell and e-switch sleeves.

Since my 16500s haven’t arrived yet, I went ahead and started the conversion to a tailcap e-switch. I’ll have pictures up on the weekend of the mod. It’s a pretty complex mod involving the following:

  • swap 15mm guppydrv clicky driver with 15mm moppydrv e-switch driver (both from Mountain Electronics). Boards are identical but have different firmware.
  • drill a tiny hole through a bare area of the driver and run a tiny wire from the e-switch bondpad through the hole to the underside of the driver.
  • solder this wire to a copper ring on the bottom of the driver.
  • apply arctic alumina to anchor the ring in place. It needs to sit below the driver near the edges of the battery compartment, but cannot touch the body tube or negative connection on the driver.
  • Make sleeves to fit inside the battery tube. The sleeves are simple rectangles bent into tube-shape. Wider tube is made from thin plastic. It insulates the inner brass tube, which serves as the electrical connection between the e-switch and the tailcap.

I completed all of the above steps today, and so far everything works. Still do:

  • Cut sleeves to proper length for battery compartment
  • Construct tailcap innards. Tailcap must contain a pass-through from ground to the negative battery contact. Also needs a microswitch with one end connected to ground and the other to another copper ring mounted near the base of the tailcap.

Rufusbduck
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Where have you seen a 16500 cell?

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

hank
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> OSH
Sing out if you find them on shelves? I’ve looked at the OSH website several times and never seen them there.

Firelight2
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Rufusbduck wrote:
Where have you seen a 16500 cell?

I found them at Batteryjunction. Here’s the link .

Here’s a link to a review of the Efest 16500 . Seems superior to 14500.

Firelight2
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hank wrote:
> OSH Sing out if you find them on shelves? I’ve looked at the OSH website several times and never seen them there.

Yes, I didn’t find them on the website either. Found them only on the store shelf.

I was surprised they aren’t available on OSH’s website considering these seem to be manufactured specifically for OSH. The packaging actually says “@2014 Orchard Supply Hardware” right below the bar code.

I was thinking at first they might be discontinued lights, but then my local store restocked them. So maybe not.

I think I’ll get a bunch more so I have extra stock in case OSH does discontinue them later.

Note that OSH has different sizes available, all with the LED Lenser style optic. This is the smallest one they have, but they do have a much larger light using 3xAAA or maybe 3xAA, but it sells for over $20. Much more expensive than these $8.99 cheapies, though still far cheaper than a comparable size Lenser.

hank
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Now you need to come up with a way to reuse the rest of the OSH flashlight after taking the lens out.

Maybe a triple?

Firelight2
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hank wrote:
Now you need to come up with a way to reuse the rest of the OSH flashlight after taking the lens out.

Maybe a triple?

I’m not a huge fan of the 2xAA battery format. The tube’s too long for anything else. I’m also not a huge fan of 2x li-ion in series. So turning this into an MTG2 or XHP host probably isn’t a good idea (that and there isn’t much heatsinking).

I suppose I could try the human lathe method to cut the tube to 1xAA. Not sure it’s worth the effort though.

On the upside, in addition to the optic I can salvage from the OSH light:

  • tailcap switch boot – It’s black … and it fits into the SK68, 58 and #3 zoomies! I’m not a huge fan of bright orange tailcap switch boots so this is nice. It’s hard to find a reliable supply of switch boots in this size.
  • o-rings – extra o-rings are never wasted. I find it very helpful having a stash of o-rings on-hand. Never know when one might be needed.
  • body tube grip sleeve – the stock light has a ribbed rubber sleave around it to help improve grip. These are handy for slipping on other lights when more grip is needed. Easy to cut down to size.

Even the body tube isn’t a complete waste. I used one tube to practice applying knurling with my hand knurler.

Firelight2
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My 16500 cells arrived from Batteryjunction today! Cool

When I finished grinding yesterday I concluded there was enough room for either a 16500 cell, or the conductive and insulating sleeves needed to provide electrical connection for the e-switch … but not both.

Now I’m wondering if maybe I can do both. Both should be the best possible mod for this light: (1) the increased capacity of a 16500, combined with (2) the enhanced UI and quiet switching only possible with an e-switch.

Perhaps instead of a sleeve wrapping all the way around the inside of the tube, how about a thin strip that runs down the tube. If I can dig a slot for this strip without destroying the tube, it might work. Even the slot penetrates the o-ring slot in the neck of the tube, the light might still work ok. Like all push-pull zoomies, this light isn’t waterproof. If it were, the zoom wouldn’t function properly. As such, hermetically sealing all the o-rings isn’t necessary or desired.

Rufusbduck
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The Osh in San Rafael had around 8 of the lights plus 3AAA and 2C versions with successively larger optics. The AAA was $20 and the 2C about $30, both too much to pay for a host with mostly cheap parts. I picked up just one of the 2AA units. There’s not much travel in the zoom, only 3-4 mm.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

Rufusbduck
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Depending on the host and your needs the Efest 14650 has about the same capacity.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

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Great mod. I’m a fan of LED Lenser optics, just a shame that their lights are usually under-powered and over-priced.

Firelight2
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Spent all evening working on this light.

I tried, but unfortunately there just isn’t enough room in the tube for me fit both the e-switch connection and a 16500 in the tube. Maybe with some additional grinding, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk that. At this point I opted against doing that. I might try that later with a spare battery tube.

On the upside, the tailcap e-switch is now fully functional with 14500s. It has very short travel distance and a soft touch. Moppydrv firmware so there are shortcuts to moon and turbo.

Rufusbduck
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I have an sk68 on the way and I’m curious to find out how much it can be reamed. It seems the limitation is mainly the tail cap threads though I suppose a 5/8 compression fitting mod could allow bigger cells and sleeves allow longer ones too.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

Firelight2
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I think the battery tube on the SK68 is narrower at its narrowest point than on the SK58. This may mean less room on the inside to widen the tube.

On the other hand, the limiting point is often the threads, and both lights have identical tailcap threads. The tailcaps are interchangeable.

Rufusbduck
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Since the od between the fins is larger than the OD of the narrow portion of the tube I figure I can lose everything back of the fins except the clip ring and ream under the fins and clip ring for at least a 16650 sleeve. A 5/8” compression fitting without the compression ring makes a nice tail cap and is ideal for up to 18650 and the sleeve tubing itself can just barely accommodate 18xxx after a bunch more reaming. After that it’s just a matter of what I choose to cover the sleeve with between the clip ring and the fins. Definitely silk purse/sows’ ear mod but I prefer hacking away at cheaper lights over expensive ones.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

Firelight2
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Nice! I look forward to seeing what you do with it. I love hacking up cheap lights. Big Smile

Last night I added an e-switch to this SK58.

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