Project Excalibur - Next Generation LED Thrower (many pics) - UPDATE 2018-01-24

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The_Driver
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The Miller wrote:
I might have missed it but a few questions: 1 what is the depth of the reflector /or/ depth led mounted inside the reflector from the top?

I would have to check, I don’t know exactly.
The distance from the focal point to the outer rim of the reflector is 9.4cm (this is what I mean with “maximum focal length”).

The Miller wrote:
2 what is this black thing in the center of the lens?

Michael drilled a hole into the center of the lens because I had further ideas on how to increase the throw. There wasn’t enough time to implement this yet and we don’t know if it will work at all. I will keep it a secret for now ;).

The Miller wrote:
The LED is a 3V one right? Why choose this complicated driving engine?

Yes, the LED is 3V (technically it’s almost 4V, the Black Flat has a very high Vf).

This driver is of very high quality in terms of the components used. I don’t think there is a higher quality buck driver for LED flashlights. That is one reason why it is so expensive (also because it’s sold in Germany and the guy is trying to make money with it). It has all the features I wanted (over discharge protection, “nerdy” status LEDs, possibilty of connecting thermal probe) and can go up to a last 11A. I wanted to able to upgrade the light with a better LED and be able to utilize it fully. Newer LEDs are able to take more and more current.

The Miller wrote:
Can you / do you want to give an estimate on the costs of this monster?

No, not completely. One reason is that I was lucky on multiple fronts. If someone else were to build the same exact light they would pay much more money.
Most importantly you need a large, electroformed precision parabolic reflector and a matching head with large diameter. Where are going to get that and how much will it cost?

If you ask Peakbeam Systems how much a spare head with reflector costs, you will probably fall off your chair as we like to say in Germany. Big Smile I have heard that they want around 170€/$ for just the glass lens!

- you need multiple Osram Black Flat LEDs for testing, not all are good (but we had more good ones than expected)
- the driver you can replace with a cheaper one, but it needs to be a buck driver (the Convoy L6 driver, FX-30, might be the cheapest, it does 5A from 2S cells, but I don’t know how well it works with 3V LEDs). Otherwise the mtn max buck driver would be a very reasonable option.
- you need a DTP PCB for each LED (for testing)
- you need a variable constant current source for testing (lab power supply)
- you need a way to electrically isolate the batteries from the center solder pad of the LED without negatively impacting the heatsinking (we used a battery carrier which I already had)
- you need a machinist who makes all the parts
- you need to anodize the outer part of the body and gold coat the contact plates
- you need a large UCLp lens (or other ar-coated lens)
- you need somebody who has a lot of time and is skilled at building lights

You calculate youself what you would pay ;).

The Miller
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Thanks for the detailed answers.

Isn’t the large SST90 amp hungry at 3-4V? Big die?

Dang I hope you’ll be able to compare your monster to the GT when it is done, they are pretty close on a lot of sizes.

The_Driver
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Yes the Luminus SST-90, CBT-90 and SBT-90 are 3V LEDs which can take high current (up to 18A). They are actually the LEDs which this driver was originally developed for, I think.

The CBT-140 and the new CFT-90 can take even higher amps, officially up to 28A, but probably even more.

The_Driver
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Enderman wrote:
I have done some testing, it’s pretty interesting actually.

With this exaggerated huge LED example, all squares would overlap at 1.1m (so you would measure slightly farther than that)
.
However, with a focusable lens or reflector, you can actually change the focus and make all squares overlap at the luxmeter.
When they are all overlapping is when you get the “sharp die projection” image.
This allows you to take the measurement at a closer distance and get the same cd value when you calculate it back to 1m.
You need to keep in mind though that focused at the luxmeter will not give maximum throw. It should be collimated using that template I posted above for best throw.
.
For your flashlight, I calculated a minimum distance of 28.5m when it is collimated correctly.
If you want to know how I calculated this stuff just let me know, I can make a separate topic explaining everything.
To measure the maxabeam, I’m not sure how far it would need to be, because unlike an LED the small burning point is not all the same intensity like the surface of an LED is.

Please do make a thread on your ideas!
I don’t understand how to “read” your graph yet…

My light was focused very carefully by running the LED at 30mA and shining it on a tree 30m away. The measuring was done in 12m distance (I originally thought 8m would be the minimum distance, so 12m sounded good enough).

Did you take a look at sma’s test which I linked to? He showed that 2.5m is the real minimum for the Olight SR-95 UT. What does your method tell you for that light?

I know that my conversion factor is not really based on anything, but 100m distance is something I have read in other places regarding the Maxabeam with it’s Xenon bulb.

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The Miller, The plastic center is probably a plug covering the hole for the return wire in the original short arc Maxabeam

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That super tight beam is sexy! I love throwers and I didn’t pick up this hobby for the sake of practicality!

This light is quite similar with the on-going BLF GT, and your beamshots can definitely satisfy our thirst of seeing the BLF GT beamshots lol.

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This almost makes me want to build a big thrower light, very nice Thumbs Up

The_Driver
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The BLF GT has a very similar sized head, yes. But there are some differences.

  • The GT doesn’t have an electroformed precision reflector, is has a standard aluminium flashlight reflector (so it’s less precise, but has a higher reflectance)
  • The GT has 4 or 8 batteries, my light just three and also more mass at the head, so it will probably be much heavier
  • The XHP-35HI has 6-times the DIE size of the Osram Black Flat and 55 prozent of the luminance. So the spot will be much bigger, it will be much brighter overall, but it will not go quite as far
  • The GT will be factory focussed which is nice

Well known modder Vinz had a lot of difficulty getting a de-domed XP-G2 correctly focussed an an Olight SR-90 reflector (100mm diameter) a few years ago. He did manage to do it though and it held the “record” for over three years (900kcd). It originally inspired me to do this project. So putting the even smaller Black Flat into the even larger GT reflector might not work or at least be very difficult.

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When you make a LED reflector light with such extreme focus, there are some unusual side effects. Many of you have probably noticed that most lights produce a slight donut hole when you hold them close to something.
Well, this light still produces a donut hole in 3m (9.8ft) distance!
You can see this on some of the beamshots, the beam looks “hollow” for the first few meters.

Here is a realistic white wall shot of the hotspot in 2m (6.6ft) distance:

Since you can’t see the corona in that shot here is another one with higher exposure (corona ist now realistic, the hotspot itself is overexposed):

The reason for this is the same as for the minimum distance where one can measure accurate candela values.

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this is the most powerful light I have ever seen. congrats on the project! and thank you for sharing it.

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I’ll have to repeat others in saying WOW!

Amazingly well done and very well documented. Bravo!

Truly excellent work from both of you. Thumbs Up

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A fine example of echt deutsche Gründlichkeit Grad Kudos!! Beer
Everything is thoroughly prepared and documented (before and after).

And what now. Going for the absolute record?
Or just sitting on the sofa, hoping for a rerun of Schimanski?

You are a flashaholic if you are forced to come out of the closet, to make room for more flashlights.

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Thanks guys!
Schimanski sounds good…
Although I prefer Magnum. Big Smile

There are still some small annoying things to take care of:
- reduce current from 5A to 4.5A by replacing sense resistor
- solve problem of loose and cracked lens
- try to get rid of the high pitched whine by using an alternative firmware version
- change voltage set points of status LEDs to better fit the discharge curve of modern high-capacity 18650s
- replace assymetrical springs of battery carrier with symmetrical copper springs

Also I want a nice looking beamshot which showcases the 2500m ANSI range.

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What a gun !!! Crazy
Congrats for building up this fantastic record breaking construction.
You really make it guys.

The only thing I would like to disagree with, is that this flashlight should be “completely useless though, the spot is way too small to find anything. laughing But then again that was never our intention. The only remaining application: cloud bounce! IMO this light is extremely sensible and very useful flashlight, as cloud bouncing and even spotting a small point of light on other far away objects are some of the really important themes in context with a lot of serious science, at least in modern physics. Grad

Not to forget the infinite eternal wisdom comments on the General Spot Size Factor Theories, that one of my grand-grandvathers used to proclaime while he had to manage a totally unexpected stormy, slippery and curvey late night sidewalk, caused by just one beer too much. But after some decades of nothing but hard work, he came up with his theoretical essence, which is a brilliant piece of mindbreaking cosmic beauty. Innocent

The fundamentel law is genious and even simple.
As long as the spot size is big enough to enlite the key hole area of my castles front door, there is absolute no problem! Crown

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There was a thread where a BLFer spoke about using simple plexiglass
He measured better light pass through then his AR coated glass and a stock lens.
I don’t know who or where but maybe somebody else does for it was met with some disbelief so he posted his exact measurements.
In this case maybe a little less good lens without that light blocking center would be just the same but better looking and much easier to replace (make a new) and cheaper.

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Impressive!!! Nice read! Drooling…..
Oh, and congratulations!

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unbelievable!

luminarium iaculator
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The Miller wrote:
There was a thread where a BLFer spoke about using simple plexiglass He measured better light pass through then his AR coated glass and a stock lens. I don’t know who or where but maybe somebody else does for it was met with some disbelief so he posted his exact measurements. In this case maybe a little less good lens without that light blocking center would be just the same but better looking and much easier to replace (make a new) and cheaper.

I believe that guy. Acrylic plastic aspherical lenses I use are far better than glass one. I proved that to myself.

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The_Driver wrote:

Concerning “the record”:
As far as I know this is the farthest throwing portable led flashlight which has a single LED with a reflector. Thats also what I meant when I wrote that it’s a lot of work and rather difficult to reach even higher values with this kind of light.

The farthest throwing led flashlight with multiple LEDs and reflectors is Lumensteins Lux Monster” from Xandre. It is much, much bigger though (plastic spotlight host)! With around 6000 lumens it is much more practical though, the spot is much bigger. It used to have de-domed XP-G2s and produced 2Mcd with 2000 lumens. Not it does 1.6Mcd with 6000 lumens.

The farthest throwing portable LED “flashlight” is Photons “Scheinwerfer”, it has a very large aspheric lens and does 3Mcd.


Wow that guy is just barely over the lux you got with the single reflector…
With some better cooling and driving the LED harder you could pass 1.6Mcd Silly
My Black Flat LED is being driven at 6A for max output.

Do you have a link to a forum thread or something about the Scheinwerfer?
I hear a lot of talk about it but have never seen any first-hand information about it, just claims of 3M cd which seems inaccurate.

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About the throw record, I guess it depends on your definition of “portable”. Large fresnel lenses make it pretty easy to get huge throw numbers, but the beam is not so nice. http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1010656#comment-1010656

Edit: of course the design and execution make a big difference to the usability of the light. For example my light in the link above I put together in an hour or so, but it’s flimsy and not so nice to use.

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EasyB wrote:
About the throw record, I guess it depends on your definition of “portable”. Large fresnel lenses make it pretty easy to get huge throw numbers, but the beam is not so nice. http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1010656#comment-1010656

True, you can always just add a bigger lens and get a bigger number…
I guess we should be sorting these lights by category, like best thrower with <=150mm head, best thrower with <=100mm head, and stuff like that.

The_Driver’s searchlight here definitely wins in the sub-150mm reflector category Smile

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Did not read the entire post yet, just quick reading, but man, what a cool project, must have cost you some energy, but the result is astonishing !
Very nice

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

 

WTS BLF GT

 

The_Driver
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The Miller wrote:
There was a thread where a BLFer spoke about using simple plexiglass He measured better light pass through then his AR coated glass and a stock lens. I don’t know who or where but maybe somebody else does for it was met with some disbelief so he posted his exact measurements. In this case maybe a little less good lens without that light blocking center would be just the same but better looking and much easier to replace (make a new) and cheaper.

There are a few problems with this statement.
- we would need every detail about his setup (what lens, what lux meter, how the setup looked etc. etc.)
- cheap ar-coated lenses from China often just have 96 percent transmission (uncoated normal glass has 92 percent, borosilicate has 94 percent)
- UCLp lenses from flashlight lens (ar-coated acryllic lens) have 97 percent

- high quality ar coated glass lenses can have upwards of 99.5 percent (camera lenses for example)

During optical measurements it is almost impossible to get a tolerance under 10%. So it’s very difficult to do reliable measurements.

I can tell you: the difference between a UCLp and a normal uncoated lens can be seen with the naked eye when looking at a reflector. It looks much “shinier”.

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Blocking the center of the lens only impacts the spill, this is because it is only blocking the direct light from the emitter as compared to the collimated light from the reflector. So that disc in the center is hurting nothing at all. Wink

The_Driver
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EasyB wrote:
About the throw record, I guess it depends on your definition of “portable”. Large fresnel lenses make it pretty easy to get huge throw numbers, but the beam is not so nice. http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1010656#comment-1010656

Edit: of course the design and execution make a big difference to the usability of the light. For example my light in the link above I put together in an hour or so, but it’s flimsy and not so nice to use.

Oh, sorry, I forgot about djozz’s light. I never noticed your post. Yes, you guys have the record. Thumbs Up

For me portable means the light is self contained and can be carried around when it is used. That is the bare minimum in my eyes.

luminarium iaculator
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The_Driver wrote:

- high quality ar coated glass lenses can have upwards of 99.5 percent (camera lenses for example)

I can tell you: the difference between a UCLp and a normal uncoated lens can be seen with the naked eye when looking at a reflector. It looks much “shinier”.

Yes everything that is AR coated looks shinier…
If plastic(plexiglass,acrylic) works than it is worth a try cause they are dirt cheap.

Yes F1.2 camera lenses should have great light transmittance but they have special AR coatings that don’t go with flashlights. How do I know?
I have build aspherical flashlight(and IR illuminator) out of high quality Yukon 3×42 F1.2 lenses (triple lens system) and while it had ultra clear die projection(clearest projection I ever seen even clearer than B158) it seems that AR coatings on that lenses disables light transmittance(probably by not letting out blue color of emitter) resulting in poor kcd performance.

So maybe just maybe AR coating at some lenses is not that good as we expect.

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luminarium iaculator wrote:

Yes everything that is AR coated looks shinier…
If plastic(plexiglass,acrylic) works than it is worth a try cause they are dirt cheap.

Yes F1.2 camera lenses should have great light transmittance but they have special AR coatings that don’t go with flashlights. How do I know?
I have build aspherical flashlight(and IR illuminator) out of high quality Yukon 3×42 F1.2 lenses (triple lens system) and while it had ultra clear die projection(clearest projection I ever seen even clearer than B158) it seems that AR coatings on that lenses disables light transmittance(probably by not letting out blue color of emitter) resulting in poor kcd performance.

So maybe just maybe AR coating at some lenses is not that good as we expect.


There are different types of AR coatings.
For best performance it needs to be a VIS coating, if it is meant for IR or UV it will negatively affect performance in the visible light range (which is what flashlights make).
I’m not sure how you compared your lenses, did you buy some that had AR and some that didn’t?
An AR coated lens will always outperform a non-AR coated one if it is the correct type of coating.
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That Yukon seems very cheap and probably has a special night vision coating.

I meant expensive camera lenses (Zeiss, Canon, sigma, nikon etc.). They know what they are doing.

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The_Driver wrote:
That Yukon seems very cheap and probably has a special night vision coating.

I meant expensive camera lenses zeiss, Canon, sigma, nikon etc.). They know what they are doing.


Yeah it’s meant for IR, and it looks like a super cheap chinese night vision headset.
Real night vision gear costs thousands of dollars.

This is what you want for flashlights:
https://www.edmundoptics.com/optics/windows-diffusers/visible-windows/an...
The plastic ones are slightly worse:
https://www.edmundoptics.com/optics/windows-diffusers/visible-windows/an...

luminarium iaculator
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Yes that 3×42 “sunnranger” I build obviously had non appropriate coating for light build.
I just build and compare with commercial available stuff on lux meter. And of course “without-with” lux meter lenses method for reflectors. And not that I tried super coated lenses cause beside China available stuff KD and similar I did not have chance to try any better.

So please recommend where we could buy or try VIS cated lenses?

“An AR coated lens will always outperform a non-AR coated one if it is the correct type of coating.”

That is probably true. But how to know if we have right type of AR coating? And did you try any form of acrylic lenses?

Yes that 3×42 “sunnranger” I build obviously had non appropriate coating for light build.
I just build and compare with commercial available stuff on lux meter. And of course “without-with” lux meter lenses method for reflectors. And not that I tried super coated lenses cause beside China available stuff KD and similar I did not have chance to try any better.

So please recommend where we could buy or try VIS cated lenses?

“An AR coated lens will always outperform a non-AR coated one if it is the correct type of coating.”

That is probably true. But how to know if we have right type of AR coating? And did you try any form of acrylic lenses?

Edit:
I just saw you linked that Edmund lenses. Well at cost of more than 30$ with shipping they are bit expensive? But I guess only for personal and exclusive builds it is worth a try. Can we find something good and cheap? This is BLF and did you try any form of acrylic lenses?

Another one:
“Real night vision gear costs thousands of dollars. “
LOLBig Smile Wait when our member Seedstar sees this…
Imho you can make “real” night vision that will be same in performance as those expensive one at fraction of price. You only need high quality ccd or cmos sensor + quality camera lenses and bit of creativity. If you don’t believe me join to nightvisionforumuk.

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