Astrolux S43S NW Test Results

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JasonWW
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Astrolux S43S NW Test Results

This isn’t really a review it’s just some tests and measurements from the copper head S43S with Nichia 219C emitters.

The lumens and amps are at 20 seconds due to the rapid heat build up. Turn on results are a little bit higher, but no big deal.

Top of ramp was 1230 lumens and 8.3A

Turbo was 2000 lumens at 18.6A

That’s some serious amperage right there. I think most folks like Maukka and M4D M4X only measured about 15 amps on turbo.

This is using a button top Samsung 30Q 18650. Lumens are measured on a Texas_Ace Lumen Tube calibrated with one of Maukka’s calibration lights.

Amp draws were made with a thick wire and a UNI-T UT210E clamp meter.

Parasitic drain with switch lights on 106 microamps. With switch lights off I got 24 microamps.

Something no one else has mentioned is that the copper, at least on mine, had kind of a tacky feel. It’s normal when cool, but it feels tacky when hot. Maybe this is some type of coating to prevent the copper from tarnishing?

You can see it in the pics below. Yeah, I can scratch it off with my fingernail. I think the copper had a plastic cover attached during production to keep fingerprints off and the covers were removed before shipping and left a slight tacky film. No big deal.

One thing I noticed is that the older S41 and S42 tubes will only work on the S43 if you use a flat top battery. The S43 tube is a few mm longer. The shorter tubes prevent my button top 30Q from touching. I definitely prefer the knurled S42 tube so I may remove the button top on the 30Q so I can use it.

As mentioned by Tom E, the bezel does seem to block some of the light output. With the bezel and AR coated glass lens removed I saw 1600/2700 lumen (at turn on). With only the bezel on 1260/2100 lumen (at turn on).

This is the fasted heating light I own. Turbo usage is very limited due to the heat. I do like it, though. The NarsilM v1.3 works great and the 219C color looks great. I even like the extra spill light compared to other TIR lens.

Edited by: JasonWW on 12/04/2018 - 19:34
WalkIntoTheLight
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Yeah, this is a light that gets really hot, really fast. Definitely limits its use on turbo, and gets painful hot in about 30 seconds. I measured 22uA / 94uA for the standby drains. I didn’t measure current on max (no clamp meter), but your number of 18.6A sounds about right considering how quickly it heats up.

If the XPG3 version runs cooler, it might give it longer run times.

My only real complaint is that it over-corrects when it steps down (gets quite dim), and never steps back up again after cooling off. But, it’s a budget light, so you can’t expect too much in terms of temperature controls.

Tom E
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Yeah, I intentionally updated the Narsil manuals way back to say thermal stepdown, and not thermal control.

 

I measured a 7% saving on my bezel mods. I used a fixed mode of the max single 7135 to compare/test with. This was my first rev:

After this I sanded the top down further, took a little more off the inner bezel, then gave the inner edge a bevel. It saved a little more to get up to 7%.

 

This is how it looks now:

 

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What do you think about the weight now that you have it ?

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JasonWW
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nokoff wrote:
What do you think about the weight now that you have it ?

It’s definitely heavy for its size. That’s copper for you. I don’t have scales for accurate weighing, but it weighs about the same as the SP33 (including batteries).

Overall it’s not very efficient. The SP33 with a boost driver can get 2200 lumen at 6A while the S43S needs 18A to get 2000 lumen. That’s about 3 times the amperage for the same output. The SP33 is a much more practical general purpose light.

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This flash gets so hot so quick that if it had a liquid cooling system it would need a second liquid cooling system to make sure the first liquid cooling system doesn’t boil off.

LOL

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JasonWW wrote:
nokoff wrote:
What do you think about the weight now that you have it ?

It’s definitely heavy for its size. That’s copper for you. I don’t have scales for accurate weighing, but it weighs about the same as the SP33 (including batteries).

Overall it’s not very efficient. The SP33 with a boost driver can get 2200 lumen at 6A while the S43S needs 18A to get 2000 lumen. That’s about 3 times the amperage for the same output.


I wonder why it has such a high current draw. It seems strange to “only” get a couple thousand lumens from 18A current! Shocked

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JasonWW
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DavidEF wrote:
JasonWW wrote:
nokoff wrote:
What do you think about the weight now that you have it ?

It’s definitely heavy for its size. That’s copper for you. I don’t have scales for accurate weighing, but it weighs about the same as the SP33 (including batteries).

Overall it’s not very efficient. The SP33 with a boost driver can get 2200 lumen at 6A while the S43S needs 18A to get 2000 lumen. That’s about 3 times the amperage for the same output.


I wonder why it has such a high current draw. It seems strange to “only” get a couple thousand lumens from 18A current! Shocked

The Nichia 219C is a pretty small led. You have to push it hard to get decent output. The harder you push it the less efficient it becomes. More and more of the input power gets converted to heat rather than output.

Plus it seems the bezel is robbing output. I get and extra 500 lumen on turbo without the bezel.

Usually the people that prefer the Nichia usually know it’s not going to be as bright as the xpg2 and accept it. Your trading that extra output for the nicer tint.

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It’s unfortunate that the bezel blocks off such a significant amount of output. Thanks for the info. 18A is alot of current. My multi-meter only measures up to 2A Facepalm Do you have a link to the best method/equipment to take current measurements for flashlights?

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2 things:

1. Use a current shunt, like 10mOhms of 16AWG wire to know the specific voltage drop to calculate the current, on the tailcap. That’s my method, as I don’t need a current meter for now.

2. Use a hall effect clamp meter:
https://www.banggood.com/UNI-T-UT210E-Multifunction-ACDC-Current-Mini-Digital-Clamp-Ammeter-p-1031242.html?cur_warehouse=CN

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
Liitokala Aliexpress Stores Battery Fraud: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/60547

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JasonWW wrote:
DavidEF wrote:
JasonWW wrote:
nokoff wrote:
What do you think about the weight now that you have it ?

It’s definitely heavy for its size. That’s copper for you. I don’t have scales for accurate weighing, but it weighs about the same as the SP33 (including batteries).

Overall it’s not very efficient. The SP33 with a boost driver can get 2200 lumen at 6A while the S43S needs 18A to get 2000 lumen. That’s about 3 times the amperage for the same output.


I wonder why it has such a high current draw. It seems strange to “only” get a couple thousand lumens from 18A current! Shocked

The Nichia 219C is a pretty small led. You have to push it hard to get decent output. The harder you push it the less efficient it becomes. More and more of the input power gets converted to heat rather than output.

Plus it seems the bezel is robbing output. I get and extra 500 lumen on turbo without the bezel.

Usually the people that prefer the Nichia usually know it’s not going to be as bright as the xpg2 and accept it. Your trading that extra output for the nicer tint.


Yeah, but if you get 2000 lumens from four emitters, that’s only 500 lumens per emitter average. Even at 2600 lumens, it would only be 650 lumens per emitter. If it is using 18A to get there, that’s 4.5A per emitter, for an efficiency of less than 50 lumens per watt! That’s atrocious!

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According to CREE PCT, the old XM-L in the LOWEST BIN, got an efficiency of 50.7 lumens per watt at 3 amps. So, this 219C is getting less than 50 lumens per watt at 4.5 amps, marginally better than the lowest bin XM-L of decades ago. Facepalm

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d_t_a
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Jason, our measurements do match up. About 8 amps top of ramp, and 18-20A (on startup).
I don’t have a way of measuring lumens though..

weights without battery:
Astrolux S43

Astrolux S43S copperhead

BlueSwordM
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Well, I mean, the 219C has an efficiency of 69,6lm/W at 4,5A.

If you count the inefficiencies of the circuit, like the dual phosphor bronze springs having higher resistance than a single BeCu spring for some reason, and the less efficient optics, and thinner traces of the driver, no wonder the S43S is less efficient than even the Emisar D4.

Don’t forget the 219Cs in Astrolux’s tests may be lower binned than Intl Outdoors’ LEDs, and what not.

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
Liitokala Aliexpress Stores Battery Fraud: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/60547

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Just got my S43S NW today. My Texas_Ace lumen tube measured the same 1200 top of ramp, 2000 turbo using keeppower 18350 cells. Drains the cell really, really quick Big Smile

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I bought the copy cat light with scalloped tube.
Yes it gets quite hot rather quickly as can be seen here…

http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1416680#comment-1416680

I’d recommend shaking your new lights and listening for a slight rattle in the head.

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timbo114 wrote:
I bought the copy cat light with scalloped tube.
Yes it gets quite hot rather quickly as can be seen here…

http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1416680#comment-1416680

I’d recommend shaking your new lights and listening for a slight rattle in the head.


Mateminco is not a copy cat. It’s the same light from the same company. Like Honda and Acura, etc…
JasonWW
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I recommend everyone with this light to reset the temperature stepdown. In stock form it gets too hot then steps down to about 60 – 90 lumen. That’s no good.

I reset mine to step down a bit sooner. Now it acts much nicer and takes multiple small step downs over time.

I did a video. The 30Q was not fully charged due to a few turbo runs the day before so turbo output is a bit low.

35 seconds at Turbo
23 seconds at 550lm
23 seconds at 285lm
23 seconds at 130lm
Then steady at 87lm

d_t_a
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JasonWW wrote:
I recommend everyone with this light to reset the temperature stepdown. In stock form it gets too hot then steps down to about 60 – 90 lumen. That’s no good.

I reset mine to step down a bit sooner. Now it acts much nicer and takes multiple small step downs over time.

I did a video. The 30Q was not fully charged due to a few turbo runs the day before so turbo output is a bit low.

35 seconds at Turbo
23 seconds at 550lm
23 seconds at 285lm
23 seconds at 130lm
Then steady at 87lm

I’m not sure I understand correctly, do you mean if the thermal temperature threshold is set lower, the stepdown will be in smaller steps? Though would step down faster when in Turbo mode?

JasonWW
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d_t_a wrote:
JasonWW wrote:
I recommend everyone with this light to reset the temperature stepdown. In stock form it gets too hot then steps down to about 60 – 90 lumen. That’s no good.

I reset mine to step down a bit sooner. Now it acts much nicer and takes multiple small step downs over time.

I did a video. The 30Q was not fully charged due to a few turbo runs the day before so turbo output is a bit low.

35 seconds at Turbo
23 seconds at 550lm
23 seconds at 285lm
23 seconds at 130lm
Then steady at 87lm

I’m not sure I understand correctly, do you mean if the thermal temperature threshold is set lower, the stepdown will be in smaller steps? Though would step down faster when in Turbo mode?


Yes, that’s correct.

I had to add some music to cover a background conversation. Sorry. There’s no dialog, so you can turn the sound off if you want.

https://youtu.be/maN7kQ2Drnk

Video on how to change thermal step down.
https://youtu.be/zdMU-YB_r9Y

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JasonWW wrote:
I recommend everyone with this light to reset the temperature stepdown. In stock form it gets too hot then steps down to about 60 - 90 lumen. That's no good. I reset mine to step down a bit sooner. Now it acts much nicer and takes multiple small step downs over time. I did a video. The 30Q was not fully charged due to a few turbo runs the day before so turbo output is a bit low. 35 seconds at Turbo 23 seconds at 550lm 23 seconds at 285lm 23 seconds at 130lm Then steady at 87lm

I've been puzzled by these references in some reviews to the sudden fierce thermal regulation step down from turbo of the S43 and S43S. My S43S as out of the box unaltered (ordered early November, arrived about a week ago) has always stepped down in a sequence of steps like those you cite after lowering the thermal regulation temperature. The first step down from turbo varies quite a bit depending on the state of charge of the battery and which battery. I've seen a 43 sec minimum and a 110 sec maximum. After that the subsequent steps down always take place at regular intervals of around 23 seconds. It's the same behaviour whether I use a 30Q 18650 or an 18350, except that a fully charged 18350 can't reach the same initial turbo brightness or short time as the 30Q.

Chris Malcolm

JasonWW
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Chris Malcolm wrote:

JasonWW wrote:
I recommend everyone with this light to reset the temperature stepdown. In stock form it gets too hot then steps down to about 60 – 90 lumen. That’s no good. I reset mine to step down a bit sooner. Now it acts much nicer and takes multiple small step downs over time. I did a video. The 30Q was not fully charged due to a few turbo runs the day before so turbo output is a bit low. 35 seconds at Turbo 23 seconds at 550lm 23 seconds at 285lm 23 seconds at 130lm Then steady at 87lm

I’ve been puzzled by these references in some reviews to the sudden fierce thermal regulation step down from turbo of the S43 and S43S. My S43S as out of the box unaltered (ordered early November, arrived about a week ago) has always stepped down in a sequence of steps like those you cite after lowering the thermal regulation temperature. The first step down from turbo varies quite a bit depending on the state of charge of the battery and which battery. I’ve seen a 43 sec minimum and a 110 sec maximum. After that the subsequent steps down always take place at regular intervals of around 23 seconds. It’s the same behaviour whether I use a 30Q 18650 or an 18350, except that a fully charged 18350 can’t reach the same initial turbo brightness or short time as the 30Q.


I’m sure Tom E could explain the NarsilM thermal stepdown behavior in detail.

Keep in mind that the thermal sensor for the driver is built into a chip on the driver itself, the Atmel ATtiny MCU, so there is a certain delay and inaccuracy associated with it. Still, it works pretty well on lights that heat up a bit slower. On these small lights that heat up super fast it can sometimes cause the software to act funny.

ToyKeeper has tweaked the Anduril UI, which is going to be used on the forthcoming FW3A, to be more of a thermal control as opposed to a thermal stepdown. The FW3A also gets hot very quick, but once it cools it can actually go back up in brightness. It still uses the ATtiny chip which is what most of the BLF user interfaces are based on.

I have some notes on NarsilM v1.0 and it says the mcu samples the temperature after the initial stepdown every 45 seconds in order to give the temperature a bit of time to stabilize. It seems newer versions have cut this time in half. Probably every 22.5 seconds, which is why we see it adjust in 23 second increments.

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Hhhmm, guess I should know, but feels like forever ago - I should revisit the code, refresh my ol memory chips - they've been losing bits every day... smile

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Chris Malcolm wrote:

I’ve been puzzled by these references in some reviews to the sudden fierce thermal regulation step down from turbo of the S43 and S43S. My S43S as out of the box unaltered (ordered early November, arrived about a week ago) has always stepped down in a sequence of steps like those you cite after lowering the thermal regulation temperature. The first step down from turbo varies quite a bit depending on the state of charge of the battery and which battery. I’ve seen a 43 sec minimum and a 110 sec maximum. After that the subsequent steps down always take place at regular intervals of around 23 seconds. It’s the same behaviour whether I use a 30Q 18650 or an 18350, except that a fully charged 18350 can’t reach the same initial turbo brightness or short time as the 30Q.

That’s my experience, too. My only complaints are that

1. It steps down too far. As mentioned, you end up with less than 100 lumens by the time its done.

2. It never steps back up after it cools off.

Okay, I get that (2) is probably not going to be implemented in a budget light, so I’m okay with that. But (1) should really not happen. Perhaps the firmware should have a “pause” limit of something like 300 lumens, and stay there for a few minutes before it tries further step-downs.

OTOH, last night I was out walking in -16C temperatures, and used turbo for several minutes without any step-downs at all. So, the temperature sensor works okay. Unfortunately, turbo produces way too much heat for any decent run-times at room temperature. But outside in winter, it’s much more useful.

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If it’s doing one giant stepdown, try what I mentioned earlier. Reset the stepdown temperature a little lower. After doing this I got several smaller stepdowns instead of one big one..

I believe the head heats up quicker than the thermal sensor heats up. So by the time the thermal sensor gets to 55°C (IIRC), the head is already well beyond this. Resetting the sensor based on how hot the head feels seems to work better than the factory setting.

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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
Chris Malcolm wrote:

I've been puzzled by these references in some reviews to the sudden fierce thermal regulation step down from turbo of the S43 and S43S. My S43S as out of the box unaltered (ordered early November, arrived about a week ago) has always stepped down in a sequence of steps like those you cite after lowering the thermal regulation temperature. The first step down from turbo varies quite a bit depending on the state of charge of the battery and which battery. I've seen a 43 sec minimum and a 110 sec maximum. After that the subsequent steps down always take place at regular intervals of around 23 seconds. It's the same behaviour whether I use a 30Q 18650 or an 18350, except that a fully charged 18350 can't reach the same initial turbo brightness or short time as the 30Q.

That's my experience, too. My only complaints are that 1. It steps down too far. As mentioned, you end up with less than 100 lumens by the time its done. 2. It never steps back up after it cools off. Okay, I get that (2) is probably not going to be implemented in a budget light, so I'm okay with that. But (1) should really not happen. Perhaps the firmware should have a "pause" limit of something like 300 lumens, and stay there for a few minutes before it tries further step-downs. OTOH, last night I was out walking in -16C temperatures, and used turbo for several minutes without any step-downs at all. So, the temperature sensor works okay. Unfortunately, turbo produces way too much heat for any decent run-times at room temperature. But outside in winter, it's much more useful.

problem is the MCU firmware can't detect lumens output - all it can control is relative output and it doesn't know even what amps is going out, yet alone lumens, and the firmware, least how I wrote it, is for generic lights, not specific LED, host, and battery configurations.

Also the temp in the MCU is disconnected from the temp at the LED(s) and temp you are feeling on the body. It's a very imperfect system. External temp sensors at the proper places would help for sure, but still the algorithms aren't trivial.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Tom E wrote:

problem is the MCU firmware can’t detect lumens output – all it can control is relative output and it doesn’t know even what amps is going out, yet alone lumens, and the firmware, least how I wrote it, is for generic lights, not specific LED, host, and battery configurations.


Also the temp in the MCU is disconnected from the temp at the LED and temp you are feeling on the body. It’s a very imperfect system. External temp sensors at the proper places would help for sure, but still the algorithms aren’t trivial.

However Zebralight does their thermal control, works extremely well. I’m guessing they use some integrated approach (and maybe expensive) that isn’t practical in this light.

As a possible partial-solution, could the firmware you wrote not be tweaked for whatever host is using it? For example, in this light, it could start at a lower temperature, and each time it steps down it could raise the temperature threshold a bit. That might slow down the step-downs, and allow the light to settle down at a higher output.

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Zebralight designs their firmware for their individual flashlight models - we/I don't, plus they have regulated output so temps are predictable,can be modeled - ours are not, we use FET designs in extreme ranges of power/heat and various small/large hosts. I don't know how you can compare - it's totally different. I would love to have just one platform with regulated output and decent temp sensors to write firmware for - it would be so much easier.

The Attiny85 built-in temp sensor is just not reliable. Here's a table of values I've used for recent offset calibrations in NarsilM for the ATtiny85:

// Temperature Calibration Offset - value is added to reading, higher the #, higher the reading:
#define TEMP_CAL_OFFSET (4)
// 4 about right for the C20C#2 (triple)
// -11 about right for the C20C, kludgy driver (think MtnE modded)
// -18 adjusted for the X7R DEL 17mm driver, piggybacked
// -12 rough guess for the C8F 21700 triple
// -12 rough guess for the X6R triple
// -14 about for the TA driver for the M8
// -3 try for SP03
// 1 about right for the C8F #1
// -12 guess for the JM70 #2
// -19 is about right for the Lumintop SD Mini, IOS proto driver
// -3 Decided to use this for Q8 production
// -6 BLF Q8 Round 3 - blinks 29C w/3 setting for 20C (68F) room temp
// -2 try for the Manker U21 (LJ)
// -2 works for the Warsun X60 (robo) using the 17 mm DEL driver
// -1 try this for proto #1, OSHPark BLF Q8 driver
// 3 about right for BLF Q8 proto #2 and #3, reads ~20 for ~68F (18C)
// -12 this is about right on the DEL DDm-L4 board in the UranusFire C818 light
// -11 On the TA22 board in SupFire M2-Z, it's bout 11-12C too high,reads 35C at room temp, 23C=73.4F
// -8 For the Manker U11 - at -11, reads 18C at 71F room temp (22C)
// -2 For the Lumintop SD26 - at -2, reading a solid 19C-20C (66.2F-68F for 67F room temp)

 

So the range from above is from -19 to 4, a 23C swing just in offset - who knows how badly calibrated it is in gain, then how sensitive it is to change, etc. It's really an awful sensor to use for anything much. Dr Jones spent weeks/months on developing a PID based algorithm for thermal regulation and I still hear there's problems with it.

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so its a hotrod like the d4 that pulls like 20A on turbo, no big suprise here jasonww Smile I kinda expected it to get hot very fast on highest.

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Tom E wrote:

WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
Chris Malcolm wrote:

I've been puzzled by these references in some reviews to the sudden fierce thermal regulation step down from turbo of the S43 and S43S. My S43S as out of the box unaltered (ordered early November, arrived about a week ago) has always stepped down in a sequence of steps like those you cite after lowering the thermal regulation temperature. The first step down from turbo varies quite a bit depending on the state of charge of the battery and which battery. I've seen a 43 sec minimum and a 110 sec maximum. After that the subsequent steps down always take place at regular intervals of around 23 seconds. It's the same behaviour whether I use a 30Q 18650 or an 18350, except that a fully charged 18350 can't reach the same initial turbo brightness or short time as the 30Q.

That's my experience, too. My only complaints are that 1. It steps down too far. As mentioned, you end up with less than 100 lumens by the time its done. 2. It never steps back up after it cools off. Okay, I get that (2) is probably not going to be implemented in a budget light, so I'm okay with that. But (1) should really not happen. Perhaps the firmware should have a "pause" limit of something like 300 lumens, and stay there for a few minutes before it tries further step-downs. OTOH, last night I was out walking in -16C temperatures, and used turbo for several minutes without any step-downs at all. So, the temperature sensor works okay. Unfortunately, turbo produces way too much heat for any decent run-times at room temperature. But outside in winter, it's much more useful.

problem is the MCU firmware can't detect lumens output - all it can control is relative output and it doesn't know even what amps is going out, yet alone lumens, and the firmware, least how I wrote it, is for generic lights, not specific LED, host, and battery configurations.

Also the temp in the MCU is disconnected from the temp at the LED(s) and temp you are feeling on the body. It's a very imperfect system. External temp sensors at the proper places would help for sure, but still the algorithms aren't trivial.

Very interesting!

Now I understand much better what is going on. And of course the software has to be generic, to still do sensible things with different kinds of heat sinking, different kinds of battery technology, etc.. The ideal solution is PID control. Before I retired I used to be a research roboticist and am familiar with how well PID systems work in ideal situations, and in what ways they misbehave when things are less ideal than the textbooks presume. They do need to be carefully parameterised for the specific thing they're controlling, and to be conservative enough in design that product variability in a specific model of flashlight, such as how much heat sink compound the assembler applied, and how well, don't cause the control to misbehave. PID systems can misbehave very badly when circumstances step outside the design assumptions.

A really big problem in these little "hot rod" lights which can heat up to dangerous levels in less than a minute is that there's enough thermal time lag between the temperatures of the sensitive bits, the temperatures of the heat producing bits, and the temperature of the sensor, that by the time the sensor is detecting dangerous heat levels, even if it switched the thing completely off, there could still be enough heat heading its way from the hottest bits towards the heat sensitive bits, that several seconds after switching the power off things could still heat up enough to cause damage. Even if the parameters were carefully tweaked for a particular model, such as the S43S, and worked very well, it could still happen a year later that a new even higher drain battery could come up which would cause annoying misbehaviour at the least, and terminal damage at worst.

And of course the variation between the technologies of different manufacturers will be much more extreme than within-product manufacturing variations. The problems generic software must face in thermally regulating these little monsters are very extreme indeed!

I'd be tempted to try to build some self-calibration into the software, some way of estimating how much thermal lag and thermal inertia there was in the system so that it could adjust itself on the run to different models, new kinds of battery, and of course different user selectable power levels. For example, how long does it take after the power has been applied for the sensor to detect a 10 degree rise in temperature, a 20 degree rise, and a 30 degree rise? Some useful information which could lead to better parameterisation of the control system might be able to be derived from that.

It would be very time consuming and very tricky to try to develop that kind of adaptive software by trial and error in real flashlight systems in the lab. I'd be inclined to try to develop it first in simulated systems which were designed to have more extreme variability than ever could be met with in practice, and then try it out in practice. It would not be surprising if that process had to be iterated a few times to shake out the bugs in the simulation and in the assumptions behind the simulation design.

In terms of software development difficulty I'd say this was around the level of an interesting PhD project!

Chris Malcolm

Tom E
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Ahh, ok. Yes, I haven't done PIDs myself but have worked extensively with lead/lag/gains starting 1996 to the present day - development/support of a multi-joint rehab system. Though I'm weak in the theory I have lots of practical experience - basically it's a motor control feedback control loop, PID's and L/L/G's are just 2 different ways of accomplishing it, but the PID is preferred nowadays.

Dang, you were in robotics research? I'm working on a similar (rehab) new project with the robotics team at NASA, plus we have another couple projects leveraging actuators -- it's getting big into some of the more challenging patient treatment options, though costly of course, so it's still more popular in research w/universities or specialized clinics.

Agree - a simulated system would be great - think Dr Jones did it this way, plus he developed it on a computer so it was easy to spin changes, getting instant feedback, etc. Only when you got it working well in a test/sim setup, then port it down. After that of course, will prove how good and real world your test/sim setup really was.

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