【ツ】Interest check + ideas for a new multicolor flashlight

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Lux-Perpetua
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【ツ】Interest check + ideas for a new multicolor flashlight

Hello everyone,

I had an interesting discussion with Wurkkos flashlights today, sharing some first ideas about developing a flashlight with colorful beam (RGBW). Since there are many flashlights with colorful beams out there already, I suggested to start with a thread, gathering and collating the best ideas to make this one special and in every possible way as good as it gets.

Please feel free to post your ideas and your requirements for the ultimate multicolor flashlight.

 

Some personal initial thoughts:

This initial post is work-in-progress, i.e. I will supplement further ideas incl. pictures later on.

 

1. Host size

Personally, I think a single-cell flashlight is best for a flashlight with multiple colors. Power consumption and heat dissipation is usually not that much of a problem as you face with powerhouse flashlights like FW3A or D4. A good host in terms of size and appearance might be something like Sofirn's SD05, using the new 21700 battery size. However, the magnetic control ring might be a challenge with four different colors and different brightness levels.

 

2. Emitters, Reflectors/Optics

This is actually a crucial point. Today, we have the luxury to choose between four independent LEDs for each color (e.g. XP-E2, SST-10, Osram Ostar Projection Compact Q8WP) or a single LED with four independent die areas (RGBW LED like Osram Stage S2WP or XP-E color). As I have seen on the Fitorch MR35, a single reflector and multiple LEDs aligned in it do not result in a nice looking beam. You always have the trade off with donutholes or awkward beam shapes.

 

My assumptions for a light with multiple single-color LEDs:

  • each LED needs to have its own reflector "cone" (see Sofirn Q8 for example) to avoid donutholes/artifacts in the beam
  • each reflector needs to be correctly aligned to form a uniform beamshape
  • advantages: more options for powerful emitters like Osram's Q8WP with up to 5A current and > 500lm output
  • disadvantages: the head diameter will significantly increase due to the necessity of a quadruple reflector housing

alternative: 1062x quadruple Carclo frosty or pebble optic (less throw but smooth beam pattern) or mule design

 

 

My assumptions for a TIR light with one multicolor LED:

  • one single LED TIR optic for concentrated but evenly shaped light distribution (see Fireflies E01)
  • OSRAM OSTAR Stage LE RTDUW S2WP might be one of the best multicolor LEDs
  • advantages: small head size, less heat dissipation
  • disadvantages: less powerful and less choice of special wavelenghts (e.g. 660nm deep red), possibly more expensive for emitter costs

Edited by: Lux-Perpetua on 08/30/2019 - 08:35
iamlucky13
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Thanks for sharing your ideas Lux-Perpetua. I’ve been interested in a colorful light recently, even more so since I found out that Clemence has phosphor converted color E17A’s available. Those are potentially able to mix to better whites than the standard colored emitters, and might appear less “harsh” (but also less saturated).

I’ve had many ideas about this, some more ambitious than others. Here’s my thoughts, which hopefully aren’t too far-ranging for the purposes of your thread:

  • Optics

I have read in reviews of existing Cree XM-L Color lights that even quad dies sharing a substrate can produce beams that are slightly off-center, with each color offset in a different direction. This should not be a big deal for one color at a time, but is less desireable for mixing, unless perhaps using a very floody optic.

So pending some potential bench testing, my thought is individual die emitters, each with their own optic (such as a Carclo quad), it likely to provide the best results unless throw is a priority.

  • Emitters

Individual emitters give users the most options for modding. For example, my current interest less towards RGBW, but rather RGBA.

I know of at least 3 families of XP-compatible color emitters: Cree XP-E/XP-E2, Luminus SST-10, and Nichia 219B.

The Nichia E17A have a different footprint, but there are a couple MCPCB’s available, and I think Clemence has plans for more.

  • Driver and Firmware

This is the ticket to an interesting light. Most multi-color drivers are simple. The Skilhunt H03c, for example, has 4 modes for the main (white in the stock light) channel, and all the color channels are at a single output with no mixing. Neat, but more is possible.

I know of a handful of more sophisticated drivers that could provide some inspiration, if not be outright useful as they are, except none of them are really available:

- tterev3’s MELD-X: a very complex driver and firmware package supporting up to 5 channels (eg – RGBW + UV), with white output ramping, and a variety of RGB channel mixing options. Includes an e-switch and a simplified mechanical switch version.

- Dr. Jones RGBW Driver: also quite sophisticated with white channel output ramping, and color output cycling, plus the ability to ramp each color channel individually to mix any possible color.

- Flashy Mike’s RGBW D4: A 1-off production, as I understand it. 5 channels (RGB and 1+FET on the white channel). I don’t know much about this one, but he described the UI as “similar to Narsil.”

- Toykeeper and Texas Ace’s Synthesaber – a sophisticated lightsaber driver and UI with 4 channels, each powered by 3× 7135 chips. The UI is designed for color mixing cool lightsaber effects, not running a flashlight.

I have a separate idea that may or may not be viable (due in part to layout space for a reconfigurable RGBW / RGBA driver), but I’m not an electrical engineer, and haven’t taken a stab at trying to learn the full details of BLF-style linear drivers.

It would involve 8 × 7135 chips, with 4 connected by default, so each channel is initially 350mA. Two sets of solder bridges could be chosen to add the other 4. One of the bridges at each chip would connect it to channel 1. The other bridges would serve to add one more chip to channel 2, 3, or 4 respectively.

That way you can have an RGB+W optimized driver, with the color channels each maxing out at 350mA and the white channel maxing out at your choice of 350mA to 1.75A. Or you could be optimized for RGB+A or RGB+UV or orange+red+photo red+deep red, or whatever other combo strikes your fancy, with each channel maxing out at 350mA or 700mA.

My thoughts on firmware are cycling through the rainbow, as well as Dr. Jone’s style individual channel control both seem like really interesting things to do with color emitters, and have been previously demonstrated. Hypothetically, there could be some sophisticated RGB-based adjustable white mixing possible, too.

djozz
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I would love a good multicolour flashlight, what a nice initiative. I have build a few multicolour lights and could add experience and ideas to help if you like.

The most important advice: if you want convincing colour mixing (and that is the case), take that very seriously, it is hard to do, even a small beamshape variation among the leds is almost impossible to smooth away with optics unless you go for hard and complete diffusion. The colour XP-E2’s vary enough in beam shape to interfere with perfect mixing. Look into Lumileds colour leds, they have a series that is designed for maximum beam uniformity. Skilhunt was smart not to go into colour mixing.

My almost ideal colour flashlight I already made in 2015, with a Dr. Jones driver and a Solarstorm SC02 host. Here is a link to DrJones RGBW thread in which I posted it, the build contains some tips maybe: http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/836535#comment-836535
The light still works like a dream.

My opinion on the format:
*go 18650 because larger is not needed for anything.
*use a frosted multi TIR for optics, or an quad OP reflector.
*make the white channel fully functional (a nice led at a proper drive current) and convenient to use, or the light will be a shelf queen.

And take charge of the driver: maybe ToyKeeper has time to do it, but the DrJones RGBW user interface is already awesome.The advantage of a ToyKeeper driver is that it is likely that she will add disco-mode

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Oh, forgot, this is an interest list. Sign me up for 2 Smile

1stein
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Whatever you’re gonna come up with – I’m in.

qandeel
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Interested

 عُمَانْ

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Random thoughts from a complete ameteur…

My first guess is that we’re not talking about a light that would do Blue or Red or Green or White, but one that will do various shades?

I’m guessing that using separate emitters would be simpler, but to keep the beam shape from doing weird things, maybe a flower petal type reflector like the Sofirn SF34 would help smooth things out. Put, say, 3 of each color evenly spread around the light and a white in the middle.

Then, there’s the 4 color emitter idea. Again, to keep a consistent beam shape, I’m picturing three in something like the Sofirn C8F. Will they fit in the place of a standard emitter or are they that much larger?

Would a mag ring work for changing colors? If not, maybe a two button interface – one to cycle colors and one for standard power/brightness?

OK – I’ll go sit quietly in the corner and listen to the adults with a clue now. Thumbs Up

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

klrman
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I love good quality single cell multi colored lights, interested for sure.

Rdubya18
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Interested

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Interested, should do a throwy led plus a floody one and add colored leds along with, that would be sweet

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aswang
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Interested. Love the wk30. I much prefer separate leds so we can change the led combination later if we want like the wk30. If they use a dive light host like the sd05 I’d even be more interested.

iamlucky13
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I neglected to say clearly previously:

Interested.

Lux-Perpetua
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Thank you guys for your great input, especially to djozz, iamlucky13 and amishbill. Thumbs Up Beer

Your feedback is highly appreciated. I will check with Wurkkos and Sofirn to see what they will think about these ideas and get back to you.

So far, my impression is that they intend to develop a multicolor flashlight that can use four colors separately (RGBW) but not at the same time. Thus, I don't think they thought about mixing colors for infinite color options yet. Looking at the possibilities we may get with an appropriate driver would make this of course much more interesting and unique. Eventually, it probably depends on cost effectiveness, actual demand and - not to underestimate - the efforts both BLF members and Sofirn will need to invest to make this a story of success. I'm telling this because we are currently some kind of "stuck" with the SP10S BLF Andúril flashlight that is intended to use a sophisticated NiMH/Li-Ion boost driver and Andúril for firmware.

 

I think the Dr. Jones driver sounds very promising but we may need to find out how easy or difficult it will be for Wurkkos/Sofirn to get it in high numbers and how the interface can be set up conveniently. In the end, it should be complex enough to offer nice color mixing modes but OTOH not too complex to overstrain users comprehension. I do agree that 18650 is a wise choice in terms of size, current consumption and host options (to reduce additional development costs).

 

Another interesting option that just came into my mind...

 

Option 1

LEDIL ANNA optic frosted

center LED: Osram S2WP (with channel mixing?)

6x rim LEDs: Samsung LH351D or Luxeon V2 with HighCRI and 4.500 - 5.000K

 

Option 2

LEDIL ANNA optic frosted

center LED: Samsung LH351D or Luxeon V2 with HighCRI and 4.500 - 5.000K

2x rim LEDs: XP-E2 red

2x rim LEDs: XP-E2 royal blue

2x rim LEDs: XP-E2 green

channel mixing with those XP-E2 color LEDs possible?

 

Best would be an optic that is partially frosty (for color LED and floody, diffused beam) and partially transparent for best throw on white light. I don't think these exist but who knows...

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Thank you Lux-Perpetua for this interesting topic, I totally agree with the single LED will has its problem in low output and less choice of special wavelengths. Multi LEDs will be the first choice if reflector beam angle will suit for each color.

djozz
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Maybe we should also ask the opinion of stephenk, this light might be interesting for light painters, and they have very specific needs, nothing that costs extra to make it, just a few things in the hidden firmware like specific strobes. That is: in case special firmware is written for this light.

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Here’s my 2 cents:

Make Doble-barrel one. One reflector SMO for throw and the other OP with 4-color led inside. The TIR optics could be placed in between the reflectors with warm floody light (E21As?)

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1stein wrote:
Here’s my 2 cents:

Make Doble-barrel one. One reflector SMO for throw and the other OP with 4-color led inside. The TIR optics could be placed in between the reflectors with warm floody light (E21As?)


Did you means make a replace reflector for different choice ?
1stein
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MacLee wrote:
1stein wrote:
Here’s my 2 cents:

Make Doble-barrel one. One reflector SMO for throw and the other OP with 4-color led inside. The TIR optics could be placed in between the reflectors with warm floody light (E21As?)


Did you means make a replace reflector for different choice ?

No, I mean 2 reflectors, one next to another. There are already such solutions on the market (Klarus XT20, AMUTORCH TC750, Sunwayman D40C, some Niwalkers). IMHO it’s a little waste to apply TIR to all LEDs. We have to sacrifice 1x% of performance while in case of color LEDs we may lose even more.

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1stein wrote:
MacLee wrote:
1stein wrote:
Here’s my 2 cents:

Make Doble-barrel one. One reflector SMO for throw and the other OP with 4-color led inside. The TIR optics could be placed in between the reflectors with warm floody light (E21As?)


Did you means make a replace reflector for different choice ?

No, I mean 2 reflectors, one next to another. There are already such solutions on the market (Klarus XT20, AMUTORCH TC750, Sunwayman D40C, some Niwalkers). IMHO it’s a little waste to apply TIR to all LEDs. We have to sacrifice 1x% of performance while in case of color LEDs we may lose even more.


So it will looks like a headlamp with 2 reflectors in front?
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Probably, 1stein is referring to something like this...

This host here could be using two separate optics. While the Amutorch TC750 uses both "units" for white light, the idea could be to use only one emitter unit with white light and significant throw (e.g. Carclo 10507 triple optic or 10621 quad optic) and a second emitter unit with colorful LEDs (triple made of XP-E2 royal blue, red and green or as quad with additional UV 365nm light) and a frosty optic (Carclo 10508/10509 triple wide spot frosted or 10624 quad optic).

Supplemental: UV light will not work with most optics as these are made of plastic material that filters most of the UV wavelenghts.

Bottom line: If you want to implement UV light into a multicolor flashlight you need to go for a classic reflector design (or mule design) with glass lenses.

1stein
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MacLee wrote:
So it will looks like a headlamp with 2 reflectors in front?

It’ll look like a double-barrel shotgun. Sharp!

kat
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I’m interested in anything that comes from here Big Smile

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I’m interested.

Lux-Perpetua wrote:
2x rim LEDs: XP-E2 royal blue
I wouldn’t use royal blue LEDs! There is sufficient evidence that they will damage your eyes.
They pretend to be brighter in specs (higher lumen values) but visible output is similar to standard blue.

Instead of using multiple 7135 for each color LED you might consider a single D882 transistor per LED, I’m using them in my RGBW D4 EDC since January 2018 without any problems. D882 are slower than 7135 so I recommend reducing the PWM rate for near moonlight levels.

I prefer a double head light (not double-barrel but one head at each end), similar to my RGBW Q8 but sized as a D4. One powerful quad head with TIR for a couple of thousands lumens and one head with 4 color LEDs behind a TIR. This would require a special tube which leads the positive terminal of the cell to the rear head (hint: FW3A).

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I find double-barrel heads really ugly and I fear that I’m not alone in that. And I do not see why the white led should need a larger reflector than the coloured ones, a EDC-type beam is even preferable for a light like this in my opinion.

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Okay, some more thoughts and rough ideas...

 

Multicolor flashlight with reflector

Let's just imagine we had a quintuple reflector as in Acebeam's X65 flashlight. Now, the X65 is a heavy duty flashlight with a large reflector. So, please take this as reference for the reflector design only. Getting there entire reflector smaller the configuration could be:

center emitter: Cree XP-L HD V6 3D (4.885K) or for even more throw Cree XP-L HI V3 3D (4.885K) or - more cost effective - Luminus SST-20 4.000K 95CRI / SST-20 5.000K 70CRI

adjacent emitters: Cree XP-E2 red/green/blue/amber or just three colors and UV (e.g. LG LEUVA33W70RL00 365nm or Seoul Viosys Z5 365nm).

the adjacent reflectors would at least need to have a structured surface (orange peel) to reduce artifacts. However, I'm not sure if the shifted angle (not being in the center of the host) would cause an uneven beam shape.

 

Multicolor flashlight with LEDIL ANNA-40-7-X (where "X" defines clear spot, medium spot or frosty wide beam)

source: https://www.ledil.com/search/?families%5B%5D=Anna-40&q=

 

Ideal would be an optic where the center LED part is clear for a narrow spot beam of white light and the adjacent "rim" part would be frosty wide spot for a diffused colorful beam without artifacts. A compromise could be ANNA-40-7-M with light diffusion.

 

center emitter: Cree XP-L HD V6 3D (4.885K) or for even more throw Cree XP-L HI V3 3D (4.885K) or - more cost effective - Luminus SST-20 4.000K 95CRI / SST-20 5.000K 70CRI

adjacent emitters: 2x Cree XP-E2 red/green/blue each.

 

 

In any case, the biggest challenge however is the driver. The most intriguing questions are:

  • Is the Dr. Jones (or any other) driver capable to fulfill are requirements in terms of hardware and software (UI)?
  • How difficult will it be for Sofirn to source enough drivers from third party manufacturers?
  • Alternative: How complex and difficult would it be for Sofirn to develop a comparable driver on their own?
  • How much costs will be generated in developing/sourcing the driver and will these costs be reasonable with regard to the targeted sales price?
  • How much effort in terms of manpower will be necessary both by BLF members and by Sofirn's engineers? I deliberately pose this question because we may overstrain things too far here. The development of the SP10S Andúril NiMH/Li-Ion boost driver is stuck for some weeks for reasons unknown. I assume that Sofirn's engineering team is kept busy with a lot of other topics right now and even if there was room for additional developing our driver experts still have no direct communication channel to the manufacturer's engineering department.
djozz
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For sofar as I have come to know Sofirn, they are pretty good in developing driver hardware at the moment: for the SP36 they managed to combine the Q8 Narsil driver with USB charging hardware, including extra indicator leds in the switch. All without any BLF involvement. This tells me that they are pretty capable in that department. They are not good in designing good user interfaces though, every UI that they developed sofar have flaws. It is because they are not end users so they have to guess what their customers want and are not very good in that. In contrast: Hank from the Emisars is a flashlight enthousiastic himself and he actually carries a new design around for a while for testing.

So I think that Sofirn can make pretty sophisticated designs, but will need a lot of input for the user interface, and they are stubborn enough to have an opinion of their own about it which you will have to overcome or meet in the middle.

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djozz wrote:
I find double-barrel heads really ugly and I fear that I’m not alone in that. And I do not see why the white led should need a larger reflector than the coloured ones, a EDC-type beam is even preferable for a light like this in my opinion.

Yep, most of these look like ugly Frankenstein this would biass the sales probably. And it’s crucial to gurantee good sales since the volume will not be huge I believe.
How about three reflectors then? LOL

Anyway I do hope to have a bright and throwy red LED – anti-insect, no-blue, preserving night vission goodness…
In terms of blue&UV – I think there should be some warnings stated (inprinted on the body?). Also those regarding melanine, prostate cancer and eyes damage. I think these hazards are also covered by world standards (EN/ISO/UL/ASTM etc.)

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Left picture is a beamshot of a single color LED in my RGBW D4 with TIR.
Right picture is a beamshot of a single color LED in my RGBW Q8 with quadruple reflector.
Which one do you like more (if you are not a Mickey Mouse fan)? Big Smile

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Yeah, headshot Mickey looks kind of bizzarre. Looks like one should take into account either separate reflectors or TIR optics. Seems the TIR is cheaper, easier and nicer, but it reduces the output a little.

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Btw., when using a TIR, the white LED does not have to sit in the center, you will have the same perfect beam with any of the TIR lenses. You don’t even need a TIR with centered LED.

With the proposed 7-LED TIR I would rather prefer 3 or 4 powerful white LEDs and 1 LED for each extra color.

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Flashy Mike wrote:
Left picture is a beamshot of a single color LED in my RGBW D4 with TIR. Right picture is a beamshot of a single color LED in my RGBW Q8 with quadruple reflector. Which one do you like more (if you are not a Mickey Mouse fan)? Big Smile


Jeez... Shocked  Facepalm

Okay, let's drop the whole idea about a multireflector light with independently running emitters. I think we should stick to the idea of a TIR optic.

 

Flashy Mike wrote:
Btw., when using a TIR, the white LED does not have to sit in the center, you will have the same perfect beam with any of the TIR lenses. You don't even need a TIR with centered LED. With the proposed 7-LED TIR I would rather prefer 3 or 4 powerful white LEDs and 1 LED for each extra color.

 

I agree. As long as the output of one LED suffices it should be fine. I assume with the right (over)current applied one XP-E2 should emit up to 150-250 LED lumens depending on wavelength. Red XP-E2s are known to be more sensitive to overcurrent and heat than blue XP-E2s. I could also imagine the LEDIL ANNA-40-7 optic with the Osram S2WP in the center and some powerful white LEDs around it.

 

djozz wrote:
For sofar as I have come to know Sofirn, they are pretty good in developing driver hardware at the moment: for the SP36 they managed to combine the Q8 Narsil driver with USB charging hardware, including extra indicator leds in the switch. All without any BLF involvement. This tells me that they are pretty capable in that department. They are not good in designing good user interfaces though, every UI that they developed sofar have flaws. It is because they are not end users so they have to guess what their customers want and are not very good in that. In contrast: Hank from the Emisars is a flashlight enthousiastic himself and he actually carries a new design around for a while for testing. So I think that Sofirn can make pretty sophisticated designs, but will need a lot of input for the user interface, and they are stubborn enough to have an opinion of their own about it which you will have to overcome or meet in the middle.

 

Not meaning to disagree with you Djozz but I find it very hard to get substantial feedback from Sofirn so far. I sent them quite some suggestions for improvements about hardware and user interfaces in the past, both here on BLF and also directly to the factory in Shenzhen. As usual, patience is the key but without proper mutual communication in place the odds to run a project like this are very remote.

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