Scallywag's 9th Annual Old Lumens Challenge - Modified Light Category

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Scallywag
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Scallywag's 9th Annual Old Lumens Challenge - Modified Light Category

I decided I’m going to enter the modified light category. I know which light I’ll try to mod, but I don’t have pictures and haven’t ever opened it yet.

Not sure this will even get finished in time this year.

(For what it’s worth, it’s gonna be the “YM-3030” that I got from Bort.)

This will not only be my build thread, but it will also be the only place I take any notes about the build.

Edited by: Scallywag on 10/10/2021 - 11:35
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Reserved.

Notes:
Original driver diameter: 36mm.
Driver mount hole centers are on 32mm diameter.
30mm diameter fits between installed screws.

MCPCB diameter ~26mm. Originally probably XP-G

Battery carrier max cell length 69.74mm before contacts installed.
External length of cell carrier: 77.5mm
Battery tube: 42mm internal diameter. usable internal length ~71mm minimum – possibly more depending on what exactly is going on at the head end once the driver’s in.

Plastic reflector: 40mm deep by 57.5mm diameter (lip) or 54mm diameter (below lip) – external dimensions
Plastic lens: 61.5mm diameter, 1.5mm thick
Stock: aluminum MCPCB, ~1.5mm pill shelf…

Head internal diameters:
Top level: 62mm diameter, 10mm deep. Mostly bezel threads, and lens/o-ring lip
Second from top: 56mm diameter 25mm deep (bottom is curved in starting around 20mm)
Bottom level: 46mm diameter, ~12mm usable depth
Pill-shelf threads below that.

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Alright, initial disassembly and planning stages.

Overview shot:

The first thing I thought of was the cell carrier. It’s going to need a retrofit for high currents. The springs are suitable for, like, alkaline AA currents at best. I’m pretty sure I can cobble something together with Blue gen3 springs and 1mm copper sheet I’ve got. So I’m not super concerned about that problem immediately, because I believe I have everything I need on-hand already and it’s just a matter of putting in some hours and fiddling.

The next issue is gonna be the driver.

(Not much of a driver, huh?)
I want a new one, I want Anduril, but it’s mounted with two screw holes.

This is the main problem I have to figure out quickly, I think. If I need to order a driver from OSHPARK (or worse, aliexpress), I need to do it soon. I don’t think there’s an open-source driver design with appropriate screw holes in the layout… so I probably need to go with a small driver and rig some sort of adapter. My initial thought is a copper ring (possibly cut from my 1mm copper sheet?) with screw holes drilled into it, and soldered to the ground ring of the driver. (Edit: diameter between the screws is 30mm.) It looks like I’ve got about 5mm of depth to play with in the driver cavity, so the driver itself could potentially sit inside the cavity (with the adapter ring toward the tail end of the light… But I think I may want to do the opposite, for reasons I’ll discuss next:

The next issue is gonna be heatsinking. The shelf is, uh, not exactly the thickest shelf. And it has speed holes in it ;). It’s the shelf pictured above, under where the driver would be sitting. I haven’t opened the bezel so I haven’t measured the thickness, but I’m guessing 2mm, 3mm at most. I’m trying to think of ways to enhance this (possibly again featuring 1mm copper sheet) but I don’t remotely know how to attach any heatsinking I make to the bare aluminum shelf. The only saving grace here is that since I’m replacing the driver, I’ll be pulling all the wires out of the handle, and I can hopefully remove the entire pill to work on it.


Oh, there’s also the tail contact. It’s some sort of spring-loaded brass(maybe?) button, and I have no idea how it would handle any sort of high current. I haven’t tried super hard to disassemble it yet, but what I did try didn’t work.

Stretch goal: auxiliary LEDs in the switch button. (no pictures of that yet lol)
Super-double-stretch-goal: usb charging of some sort. (A man can dream)

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So, I started today off by removing the original driver.

This allowed me to remove the handle fully (previously it was tethered by the switch and charger wires):

I then flipped the head over and gave the bezel a better effort, and got it opened without any tools. Shown here with the reflector removed as well, and taped the hole out of habit…

But the reflector is plastic. And the lens is too, but I knew that already.
So I finally removed the “pill”, if you can call it that. Threaded shelf?

The thing is not substantial. About 1.5mm thick beneath the LED – which, stock, was on an aluminum MCPCB. I didn’t bother to check for DTP.

I also went ahead and disassembled the handle

And got rid of the barrel connector.

Looks like a normal microswitch to me.

So, I’m not sure how to proceed. I was hoping the thermal path would at least exist. I found a pair of reflectors on Kaidomain that I think I could make work. But the entire point of this light was going to be building something “too hot to handle” – or rather, so hot-rodded it needed a handle. SBT90.2 probably, or at least something that could hold SFT40 in regulation until the batteries died. I had even considered building a new cell carrier to hold 3×18650 (should fit inside the 42mm tube). I can’t think of a way to improve the thermal path that’s within my means. Adding mass to the shelf is the most obvious thing, but I can’t solder/braze to aluminum. Otherwise, it would be using more room in the upper part of the head to construct a new shelf, and somehow have it fit well enough to transfer heat to the walls of the head. That route would probably also entail going multi-emitter to use a short multi-reflector or something.

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Okay, I’ve been staring at the head of this light for over an hour trying to think a way to fix it.

I’m starting to think I can take a shallow reflector, something like this, and put it in the top of the head. Then I build a “shelf” out of copper or some such, and I used the holes in that pathetic stock shelf (from here on to be referred to as “driver shelf” or “driver mount”) to mount my copper shelf with machine screws or something. Long thin nuts and bolts? I think to do this, I should flatten the topside of the driver shelf, where the MCPCB used to fit in and that stuff. It would leave a massive hole in the middle with four “mickey mouse ears” from the existing large holes. Then I could use the existing holes or make new ones to fasten the new shelf.

Okay I’ve thought about this a lot more, and I think I’ve solved it. I think I’ll use a 60mm Fresnel lens in the head, with a focal length of something like 25-30mm. This should give me between ~6mm and 11mm of space to add copper to the shelf. For bonus points, I don’t have to worry nearly as much about what my shelf-mounting-solution looks like on the head end of the shelf; as long as it’s not super tall it shouldn’t be getting in the way of the beam – even if it did some, the Fresnel will probably already be an ugly beam. But no shorting issues. Then I can either rig the current cell carrier for high currents, or build a new one for 3*18650 if I feel like it and have the time. For bonus points, because the new shelf will be attached to the threaded driver-shelf, I’ll be able to do a bit of fine-tuning for focusing the light. The hardest parts will be flattening the topside of the existing shelf, and drilling the holes in the copper because I don’t own a drill press.

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Using copper sounds like a good idea. To have a flat reflector you could also try triple or quad reflectors which are usually only 2-3cm tall.

To disassemble the tail did you try some needle-nose pliers, the ones used to remove driver retaining rings? The two holes in the white plastic look like they are made to remove it.

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Good to see you in the comp Scallywag Beer

Nice idea with the Fresnel lens Thumbs Up looks like it has multiple benefits.

  

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Last night was parts ordering time. OSHPark for a 30mm FET+1+8 board (TA triple channel) and aliexpress for a fresnel lens. Hope shipping is quick.

I’m the mean time, I’m going to spend today daydreaming how to construct a 3-cell carrier. I was thinking about starting on the shelf, but I don’t think I want to bother until I have the fresnel lens in hand. Maybe I’ll change my mind later on that.

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Skylight wrote:
To disassemble the tail did you try some needle-nose pliers, the ones used to remove driver retaining rings? The two holes in the white plastic look like they are made to remove it.

I haven’t, and I’m not sure yet how critical it is to even open it. But it’s also the kind of thing I can grab a couple tools and mindlessly mess with throughout the course of a day.

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I disassembled the tail-end. While the “button” looks like brass, the spring will need a correction for high-current use. Bypass or Blue spring. If I’m feeling cheeky, I may try to solder the brass button to a Blue spring!

The large plastic part was threaded.

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I’ve decided to try baking the battery tube. I first removed any o-rings and hopefully any thread lube using isopropyl alcohol.

(Sorry for any crumbs, that is my kitchen counter.)
I placed the tube on my spare cookie sheet – it is in bad shape, and is normally a crumb tray under my toaster. I’ve used it for baking lights before. I also put down aluminum foil.

I placed it inside the cool oven, and set the oven to 550°F on convection mode, which was what worked for me in the past. I’ll update later when the oven reaches temperature. Depending how it turns out, I may regret it, or I may bake other pieces of it!

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Looks like it turned gray. Grayer?

Let’s double check with 4000K, 95+ CRI SST20.

Oh. Ooh. I like that.

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I did some thinking and some experimenting today. It looks like if I pack 3 18650s into the cell tube, there is space for a rod over 8mm in diameter between each cells around the outside of the tube, so if I can figure out something for that I could build a carrier pretty easily. I will have to find a way to do this that doesn’t electrically connect the two ends of the carrier. I think my best bet would be 5/16” (because USA Facepalm ) plastic rod and to try to use screws to hold it to a copper plate. But we are talking some small screws here. I’d definitely need to have extra material for the inevitable destruction. Also need to figure out the correct length, and solder springs (Blue springs of course) and/or brass buttons to the plates.

I did find some screws I have high hopes for in my existing supplies. For safety, I will have to have an insulated edge on the + side of the cell carrier, because of contact to the battery tube. In theory it is anodized and “just fine” but I don’t trust that, especially with repeated insertions. Some of the anodization is already pre-worn or faulty to begin with Wink

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I think you’ll find there is no difference between 5/16” and 8mm, if it makes you feel any better about not being in some other country.

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Okay, so I have done some planning. I will use copper discs at either end of the cell carrier. I can re-use parts of the original cell carrier (the end caps shown in the first image of post #3 ) to simplify my carrier construction. At least part of the end caps will be used to insulate the edge of the positive end of the carrier from the light’s body tube; part of the negative end may be used as well for fitment reasons. The way the carrier currently fits the tube, it slides into but not through the tube; I believe the negative end catches a lip where the tail-end threads are cut. I think I will use Blue springs on the negative and attempt to fabricate small copper buttons for the positive end.

For the tailcap, I’m going to attempt to coat the bare aluminum (see where the spring sits in post #10) with copper. This would allow me to solder a spring to it. I’d then solder either the existing, looks-to-be-brass button to the end of the spring, or fabricate my own from copper (and again, solder it to the spring).

If coating that aluminum works well, I might also do it to the driver-shelf and solder my copper heatsink to it.

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Okay, I’ve ordered a 1/2” thick piece of copper that I’m planning to use for the shelf. Ebay seller that sells scrap cuts. So I’ll still have to cut a circle from it, and possibly sand down some thickness (hopefully not).

The copper sulfate for the copper coating arrived today, so hopefully I will get time to try that today. It shouldn’t take long, but I have to keep it away from my daughter (easy) and pets (a bit harder).

The fresnels also arrived today – 25, 27, amd 30mm focal lengths to try. Sadly it’s pretty much the last thing I can test – but what I can figure out is if I need a lens outside of them for protection (probably) and maybe order an appropriate UCLp lens

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So I did the tailcap. I followed a process I was linked to on CPF. I cannot say I would recommend this process, though it did eventually bear fruit. It was slow, tedious, and I couldn’t really tell if it was working/going to work until it finally just did. The difference between “no visible copper” and “visible copper” was sudden; from there it was only a few more minutes to fill in the remaining bare spots.

Pictured: the copper sulfate dissolved in hot water.

I used the plastic spoon to stir it, not wanting to worry about my actual silverware. I also used a dry plastic spoon to scoop the copper sulfate crystals into the water.

The finished product. I actually cleaned it after this, but that picture turned out worse.

(Previously, bare aluminum.)

I was quite concerned with how thin the copper layer was, but it soldered well enough.

I did this with hot air, and it was a mistake. I should have used my hot plate. Way too much solder crept up the spring, stiffening it in an undesirable way. Fortunately, this ended up not matter. In the above picture I have also soldered the brass contact button onto the BlueSwordM Gen 3 spring.

And, reassembled to make sure everything fit.

This means that the new cell carrier I construct must be of equal or lesser length than the stock cell carrier. Otherwise I don’t think the tailcap will tighten down. Also, I’m really loving the champagne finish I ended up with on the body tube after I baked it (posts 11 and 12).

I did just barely manage to remember to pull the O-ring before I soldered the spring, and reinstall it for the test-fit.

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Interesting! I will have to have a look at that process.

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Yeh, that in itself is a very cool idea and perfect for your application. Even if it was slow, tedious etc… Nice progress Cool

  

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pinkpanda3310 wrote:
Yeh, that in itself is a very cool idea and perfect for your application. Even if it was slow, tedious etc… Nice progress Cool

I don’t expect to see real advantages versus just replacing the spring, but I figured I might as well play the contact resistance game a little bit. And I wanted to try it, figured this was as good a chance as ever. If I really cared about the contact resistance I’d permanently attach the carrier to the tailcap. Then the only contact points would be the cells themselves and the positive end of the carrier.

I’m definitely not doing it for the pill/shelf. But I’m still considering soldering the emitter to the copper space I’ll be adding – even if only because I haven’t figured out a better way to secure it yet.

MtnDon wrote:
Interesting! I will have to have a look at that process.

If you are determined, the most important step is the prepare the aluminum surface properly. Clean it with hot water & dish soap to start. I rubbed mine with steel wool next, and then followed the process instructions with an eraser. 100% of the challenge of this process is due to the aluminum’s oxide layer. So we want to be working on just the oxide layer during the process, and not a layer of dirt first.
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Technically progress: I de-lensed the SBT90.2 I’ll be installing on this light. I technically have extras, but I was still sweating – it’s my first de-lens.
Before:

After:

And it works Wink Thumbs Up

These shots are always tough. Hitting both contacts one-handed while taking a picture with the other hand… But worth it!

I’m expecting parts tomorrow, but I’m busy Sunday. Not sure when the next progress will be.

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Okay, everything is here. The half-inch copper “slab”, some copper discs from Bopper (for the cell carrier), and the driver PCBs.

I am planning some quality time with a hacksaw, dremel, sandpaper&files; as well as my hotplate, hot air, and other soldering equipment. Should be fun – I just gotta remember to take pictures!
For scale, the drivers are 30mm diameter.

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Update from the garage:
1. Don’t drill a hole in a thin copper circle with a hand-drill. It will work but it’s bad. Pictures later.
2. It might take me the entire rest of the contest time just to cut the half-inch copper spacer. All I’ve got is a hacksaw.

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Drill holes through thin copper by sandwiching and clamping the copper between 2 boards. Drill through one board to copper to other board.

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MtnDon wrote:
Drill holes through thin copper by sandwiching and clamping the copper between 2 boards. Drill through one board to copper to other board.

I may try something else using your technique, I have two spare discs assuming I don’t mess any up making the cell carrier. That should be easier, since it’s three very small holes and shaving down the diameter slightly. Not sure, possibly just drill several holes through the disc to fit the driver? I’ll definitely use it for the small holes for the cell carrier pieces. If I don’t end up happy with the driver ring, worst case I have some sheet copper and snips.

Anyway, today’s progress.

I started by tracing the inside diameter of the light’s head onto the copper piece I’m planning to use for the additional heatsinking in the head.

Next, I cut off the protrusions on the inside of the end-caps to the cell carrier. I’m planning to reuse these for insulation and fitment reasons; every other piece of the cell carrier will be rebuilt by me and will accomodate three (3) 18650s.

It’s tough to see here, but the copper discs as received from Bopper are shown here set atop the cell carrier ends. In both cases, the discs are slightly oversized to fit. I’ll have to shave them down, probably with my Dremel. (I didn’t do that today. Also, I took several pictures, and this was the best one I managed…)

Same deal with the size for the driver disc; at least this picture shows it better. It needs to sit down in the rim, not atop it.

So I started cutting the large copper piece. All I’ve got is a hacksaw – though I’m not sure what else I’d even be allowed to use. I can’t remember, does modified light category allow milling? I don’t have one anyway.

This is going to be a while.
So, to preserve my sanity, I alternated between sawing and doing other things. Like drilling the main large hole for the driver adapter ring. It… Well, see for yourself.

It’s not pretty. The driver fits it well enough that I could solder to it, and I got it mostly flat-enough-to-work, but… I may re-do this piece. We’ll see.
(I thought I had a picture after I’d “flattened” it, sanded it some, and dremeled some of the awful inside edge, but I’ve been having an issue where about half the pictures I take without unlocking my phone fail to save. I’ll have to take another picture the next time I’m out there.)
I also had to flatten the topside of the stock driver-shelf, to mount the new copper heatsink to it. I started by, as best I was able, flush-cutting the protruding features with a hacksaw. Progress pic:

It was not perfect, but I didn’t expect it to be. I got the big bits, ground down the major leftover high points, and then sanded it some. Good enough for me:

Some heatsink progress pics:



And that’s as far as I got today.

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Hole saws never seem to leave as smooth a cut as I would like. Sad I do find that drilling a large hole in thin copper works pretty good in soft stock using a carbide bit with a drill press and a wood sandwich. However, the sandwich method makes it difficult to pinpoint the hole center. And I have never tried it in thicker stock like 1/2”. The heat might kill the drill bit.

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Man, you get TWO A’s for Effort here!! I’m really impressed with the copper deposition…that’s neat! And what a job for a hacksaw…with a fine-tooth blade to boot. Pick up a 14t blade sometime (or 10t if you can find one) because the rest of that hunk of copper will appreciate it on the next job. Smile

Drilling copper is a whole subject in itself, with a chapter just for thin gauge sheet metals. That’s almost a double whammy there. Rigid workholding and a drill press is best so you can control feed pressure/rate, rather than a hand drill where you’re wobbly and can’t control as well, but the sandwich method works well sometimes. Good quality bit, sharp, is a must, and you can “dub” it slightly with a honing stone to help. If the bits you need are small and will fit in a dremel multi-chuck or something, that can do fine as long as you can keep it steady. Copper is one time that going fast and not using a lot of pressure can be the best choice (that’s a good way to ruin bits in steel, though). Drilling lead is just about as challenging.

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Correllux wrote:
Man, you get TWO A’s for Effort here!! I’m really impressed with the copper deposition…that’s neat! And what a job for a hacksaw…with a fine-tooth blade to boot. Pick up a 14t blade sometime (or 10t if you can find one) because the rest of that hunk of copper will appreciate it on the next job. Smile

Drilling copper is a whole subject in itself, with a chapter just for thin gauge sheet metals. That’s almost a double whammy there. Rigid workholding and a drill press is best so you can control feed pressure/rate, rather than a hand drill where you’re wobbly and can’t control as well, but the sandwich method works well sometimes. Good quality bit, sharp, is a must, and you can “dub” it slightly with a honing stone to help. If the bits you need are small and will fit in a dremel multi-chuck or something, that can do fine as long as you can keep it steady. Copper is one time that going fast and not using a lot of pressure can be the best choice (that’s a good way to ruin bits in steel, though). Drilling lead is just about as challenging.

I, um, may have warped the frame on my hacksaw today. So I might grab a new one anyway, and a 14T or 10T blade could be involved in that equation (thanks for the tip).

My impression of the copper is that it wants to grab. I don’t have a drill press (and I don’t know anyone with one to visit, either) so a handheld 12v Bosch is the entire equation here. Unfortunately. The hole saw is also… cheap. From a cheap multi-pack. I have a few regrets, but fewer dollars. My conventional drill bits are better but nothing special. Thanks again for the advice.

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Grabby…yes. Depends a little on the particular copper alloy and state of hardness, and all the rest. Copper is a great way to break your old bits and buy those brand new ones you’ve been wanting for awhile. lol. Lots of ways to skin a cat but they all bleed the same way and are just about as much work. Smile Enjoying the crafting on your project here!

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My friend said I need a band saw and a bench (disc?) sander. He’s probably right but that’s out of my price range lmao. I put off the heatsink today to focus on the cell carrier, and procrastinate until the new hacksaw and blades show up. Like I said, I bent the frame on the current one. So, update to come tonight when I get time to sit down and write it and go through the photos. I will say I flashed Anduril to the ATTiny85 from my phone, and I don’t have pictures of that because the phone is the camera, but it was way easier than using windows.

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Okay, so like I said I set out today to work on the cell carrier, since I didn’t really touch it last time.
I began by using a dremel to reduce the diameter of the copper discs that would go into each end of the cell carrier. The inner diameter of each plastic endcap was 40mm, and the discs were a bit over that.

Progress was slow. But I eventually got them to fit. The first one:

And the second. The hand-made nature is pretty obvious in these. I also sanded them due to edge burrs.

I had some ideas about marking out where to drill the holes but things didn’t really pan out very well as you’ll see later.

My drill bit was up to the task, though. Went pretty easy. I applied WD-40 to each hole on a whim. I tried to go fast with low pressure, and it did fine. I also countersunk the holes.

To match the pattern for the second disc – by this time, having realized my patterns were not nearly as good as I’d hoped – I simply clamped to drill the first hole, then put the screw right down into that hole to keep the discs aligned. Worked great.

Next I cut my plastic rods to length with my hacksaw, which was still up to this task at least. I was able to hand-drill holes in… okay, near the center? In the ends, without breaking out of the sides, anyway. It’s fine. I promise it’s fine! I tested the first rod.

I’m going to need to countersink more…

In the process of assembling the carrier, on the third rod I kept breaking a screw on one end. This happened twice before I moved to a larger screw size (and had to make bigger holes) for this last rod.

I needed to make a small “button” of some sort for the positive contacts, since this carrier wouldn’t be long enough for springs on both ends.

Enter copper sheet and snips. Easy peasy.

Cuts like butter. Then I figured, if I’m gonna reflow the springs and buttons on the hot plate, I may as well do the driver, right?
All pasted up and ready to go. This is how I lay out my drivers, by the way:

My favorite stage of reflow is when the paste looks like this:

Alright, everything has flowed. Who can spot the issues?

The problems are circled in red at this link. And fixed.
So I had to trim down the external diameter of the driver ring I cut previously. I decided to try the snips…

I should’ve done the cell carrier discs this way! It fits:

And I marked where to drill for the screws with a pencil (but I did not get to drill them today).

And finally, I glued the end caps on the cell carrier. I test-fit a 30Q and it’s kind of tight (it nicked the outer wrapping on the head), so I will probably basically permanently install the VTC6s I ordered in this light.

Big update today, lots of progress. I’m quite pleased. The cell carrier is glued with E6000 and will cure for 72 hours. Hopefully that holds, otherwise I have to buy some 2-part epoxy (JB-weld or equivalent) and even worse, smell the stuff when I use it.

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