How-To: Add Copper Braid to Springs

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relic38
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How-To: Add Copper Braid to Springs

I have been meaning to do this post for a while, so here it finally is.  How to add copper braid to a tail (or driver) spring. 

Spring

This mod reduces the resistance of the spring significantly, especially steel springs.  This may not make a big improvement on a brass spring, unless you plan to push some real serious current. J)

OK, Here's what you need:

Tools Required

  • Tailcap with a spring in it (driver springs need love and attention too).
  • Side-cutters
  • Tweezers
  • Copper braid, the type with no flux is best (1.5mm to 2.0mm, wider might be difficult to work with)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Solder
  • Soldering iron (not shown)
  • Helping Hands (not shown, optional, but highly recommended)

First, open up the tailcap using the needle-nose pliers.  Insert the tips into the ring holes and turn counter-clockwise (if you have a press-fit tailcap, usually they need to be pushed out from the switch boot side).

Open Tailcap

Here's the victim patient:

Spring

Prepare the braid by bending the end a little:

braid prep

Note, if the spring is only soldered in one spot, it is best to solder it on the other side as well.  This will prevent the spring from falling off when you melt one of the solder spots.

Position the braid on the bottom of the spring just over one of the solder  blobs.

position braid

Hit the solder blob with the iron and fresh solder.  As soon as the solder spreads to the braid, remove the heat.  You want to prevent the solder from 'climbing' too far up the braid.

solder 1

Now that the bottom is secure, snip off the top of the braid with enough excess to allow the braid to wrap around the spring.  Leave a little slack inside the spring.

Cut Braid

Now we pre-tin the top of the spring so the bonding occurs quicker when we solder the braid onto it.  I tin where the spring top is lowest, so the braid doesn't stand up higher than the spring.  This prevents a potential 'hotspot' where all the current flows through a tiny contact point.

tin spring

Wrap the braid around the spring end:

wrap braid

Solder the braid on with heat and a small amount of fresh solder.

solder 2

Trim the end as necessary to reapply the spring cap

trim

Replace spring cap, ensuring it slides down all the way.  Some prefer to leave the cap out as it adds another contact point, but in my testing it is negligible.  Plus, it looks better.

cap

Reassemble the tailcap and you are done!  Doing the driver spring is virtually the same.  Really short springs may be a little trickier, but can be done. 

NANJG 105C springs do not need copper added, but I recommend replacing them with real springs (mounted upside-down) to add some shock absorption.  It prevents inadvertent mode changes.

I hope this has been helpful.  Happy Modding! searchID8936

 

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Edited by: relic38 on 06/21/2013 - 23:31
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Thanks relic. A much talked about mod with some excellent pictures.

 

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ryansoh3
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Great tutorial with excellent photos, thanks for sharing!

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light junkie
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Thanks relic may be able to so that much appreciated

Lj

texaspyro
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Attach the braid to the top of the spring between the top coil and the one below it. This will allow the top coil of the spring to make full contact to make full contact with the battery. Otherwise, the only point that makes contact will be the braid/solder blob.

Edited…

relic38
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I should have pointed out where I specifically solder it. Right next to the end of the spring wire, in the depression it makes. You can see that in the picture. That prevents a raised portion. I’ll edit to make that clear. Thanks pyro! Edited too Wink

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THE_dAY
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Thank you relic38,

So reducing resisitance will make the light brighter or give longer runtime?

I’m curious how much resistance is being reduced in a light with steel springs on both head and tail end.

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The reduction in resistance depends on the spring itself. In my experience, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in almost every case.
I measure the tailcap resistance by applying a known current using a power supply (usually 3A or 6A). I measure the voltage drop and from there I can calculate the resistance.
Most tailcaps measure 200mV-400mV at 3A. After the mod, this usually drops to 80mV-150mV.
In a linear driver, this translates to longer runtime at max output. In a boost or buck driver, it has a small effect on run time. In all cases, it’s an improvement in efficiency.
Edit: if there is still a higher resistance, it might mean there is a bad connection in the tailcap or the switch itself is not that great. I’ve fixed bad switches as well, ususally the tiny metal plates inside have a thin raised edge that limits contact area.

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PyTech
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Thanks for sharing.
.
Have any lux readings (before and after) been done for this mod ? To see what if any gains are made. Seems like eliminating the resistance would give a slightly better current rating on a multimeter, (more accurate) but is there an actual benefit that can be measured otf ?

-Sean

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Gains at the lux meter will depend on the driver. If it is an unregulated driver, then there are gains to be had. Otherwise, the gains are mainly to runtime and efficiency.
Edit: I’ve had significant gains on unregulated (DD) drivers by making this mod. On an East-092 driver in an HD2010, the current jumps a lot.

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Thanks for the great write-up Relic!

With plunger/nub equipped tail assemblies, Ive been spreading and flattening the braid at the top of the spring before folding it over to increase the surface contact area and keep pressures symmetrical. No solder required on that end before I slip the brass plunger over the top. Protected in dielectric grease, so far no hints of galvanic corrosion (brass/steel/gold plate/copper contact).

People with the HD defiant lights should take heed for max lumens!… hint, hint… :bigsmile:

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Great post. I wish I run into it when I first started modding, it would have saved me a lot of time. I got a roll of copper braid when I bought my soldering station. Just a weller but it does the job. I bought it used and he threw in a bunch of stuff. I never knew what the heck that stuff was for until somebody mentioned it. I just managed to go through what was left of the roll and need to buy more. Where do you buy yours from? Or should I say who sells it the cheapest?

I’m a junky, I mod lights so I can sell lights so I can buy more light to mod so I can sell lights to buy more lights to mod.

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Very nice “how-to” relic38!
Thanks for sharing!

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ohaya
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18sixfifty wrote:
Great post. I wish I run into it when I first started modding, it would have saved me a lot of time. I got a roll of copper braid when I bought my soldering station. Just a weller but it does the job. I bought it used and he threw in a bunch of stuff. I never knew what the heck that stuff was for until somebody mentioned it. I just managed to go through what was left of the roll and need to buy more. Where do you buy yours from? Or should I say who sells it the cheapest?

I don’t know if it’s the cheapeast, but FT sells some:

http://www.fasttech.com/search?solder%20wick

Also, you can get it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-ke...

Jim

18sixfifty
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ohaya wrote:
18sixfifty wrote:
Great post. I wish I run into it when I first started modding, it would have saved me a lot of time. I got a roll of copper braid when I bought my soldering station. Just a weller but it does the job. I bought it used and he threw in a bunch of stuff. I never knew what the heck that stuff was for until somebody mentioned it. I just managed to go through what was left of the roll and need to buy more. Where do you buy yours from? Or should I say who sells it the cheapest?

I don’t know if it’s the cheapeast, but FT sells some:

http://www.fasttech.com/search?solder%20wick

Also, you can get it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-ke...

Jim

Cool thanks.

I’m a junky, I mod lights so I can sell lights so I can buy more light to mod so I can sell lights to buy more lights to mod.

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Thanks Relic. I’ve been waiting for this. Since you’ve been tardy in your “how to” postings I had to figure it out myself. Fortunately, I seem to have done it correctly.
A couple of times I folded a piece of braid in half, soldered the vee to the base and the two ends on opposite sides of the spring at the top. I don’t know if it helps, but it can’t hurt.

THE_dAY
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relic38 wrote:
The reduction in resistance depends on the spring itself. In my experience, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in almost every case.
I measure the tailcap resistance by applying a known current using a power supply (usually 3A or 6A). I measure the voltage drop and from there I can calculate the resistance.
Most tailcaps measure 200mV-400mV at 3A. After the mod, this usually drops to 80mV-150mV.
In a linear driver, this translates to longer runtime at max output. In a boost or buck driver, it has a small effect on run time. In all cases, it’s an improvement in efficiency.
Edit: if there is still a higher resistance, it might mean there is a bad connection in the tailcap or the switch itself is not that great. I’ve fixed bad switches as well, ususally the tiny metal plates inside have a thin raised edge that limits contact area.

Great explanation, appreciate it!

EDIT: Is it safe to assume then with this lower resistance there will be less heat no matter how little?

Tom E
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After an XM-L2 or XP-G2 copper star upgrade, I put a lot in the light box, remove the tailcap, jumper the neg. batt to the host with a heavy gauge wire, check the reading. Then, assemble it with the stock tailcap, take a reading. Most lights of single cell, nanjg driver of 3.5A or higher variety will read lower with the stock tailcap and will benefit in lumens from this mod. Usually I get almost all the lumens back from the mod.

PyTech
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Tom E wrote:

After an XM-L2 or XP-G2 copper star upgrade, I put a lot in the light box, remove the tailcap, jumper the neg. batt to the host with a heavy gauge wire, check the reading. Then, assemble it with the stock tailcap, take a reading. Most lights of single cell, nanjg driver of 3.5A or higher variety will read lower with the stock tailcap and will benefit in lumens from this mod. Usually I get almost all the lumens back from the mod.


Sounds definitive to me.
.
Do you recall the percentage of increase?

-Sean

relic38
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Regarding heat reduction, potentially. To many factors to be sure. One thing is for sure, there is less heat in the tailcap end which increases the chances of that energy being dissipated by the emitter.

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good info. phenomenal pics. nice job.

Brian

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PyTech wrote:
Tom E wrote:

After an XM-L2 or XP-G2 copper star upgrade, I put a lot in the light box, remove the tailcap, jumper the neg. batt to the host with a heavy gauge wire, check the reading. Then, assemble it with the stock tailcap, take a reading. Most lights of single cell, nanjg driver of 3.5A or higher variety will read lower with the stock tailcap and will benefit in lumens from this mod. Usually I get almost all the lumens back from the mod.

Sounds definitive to me. . Do you recall the percentage of increase?

Well it all depends on the light and the build, I believe, ex: 3.5A vs. 4.5A for example - greater loss in the 4.5A build. In a SS T13, I saw no loss, but that could be because how the buck driver works - I didn't do the copper braid because I saw no benefit, but maybe it would increase the battery runtime.

Update 06/25: Last night I saw just under 1,100 lumens with a suspect broken copper braid tailcap (didn't confirm yet), replaced with a good wired tailcap and got 1,234 lumens, so on this C8 heavily modded light, it was about 12%.

 

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Thanks for this.  I tried it for the first time today, and I let the solder creep too far along the wick, which resulted in the spring being much less springy. 

 

I liked using nail clippers to trim the wick.  It cut the wick without fraying and cleanly trimmed the wick flush with the top of the spring.

The low mode should be lower.

relic38
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Nail cutters work, but I recommend these very low cost side cutters.

https://www.fasttech.com/products/0/10003258/1243300-plato-170-flush-cutter
I’ve had them for about three months now and still like new. I’ve even trimmed sinkPADS with them.
Use only on copper, not steel or brass.

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I've got a couple of broken solder braids, but think it's always because of solder creeping up the braid, leaving a small length of flexible section, then it easily tears apart with compression of the spring. I've been soaking the braid pieces in acetone now to fully remove the flux, then isopropyl to clean, then don't keep the iron on the braid ends too long.

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That’s good. It’s something I would like to try soon.

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The GootWick I have is flux-free, which is perfect for this use.

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In the light I just built for O-L’s challenge the Q-Lite 3.04A driver I used had the short hard spring. I replaced it with a steel spring, upside down. When my AW IMR14500 came in I was surprised at the low amp reading I got, so I soldered a 22ga copper wire inside the spring and found another 670mA of power! So now it’s running 2.82A and all is well!

I usually go through the center of the spring and solder the wire to the contact board right in the middle, inside the circle of the spring. Then I solder the top of the wire inside the top hoop, so that no wire is above the coil. Not really necessary to leave any slack in the wire/braid as the spring is as long as it’s going to get, it will only compress. That being said, I do like to add a bit of a coil to the copper wire just in case. Wink

Thanks for the pics relic, whether or not we do it the same way the end result is more Powah!! Smile

Edit: It’s not necessary to rush out and buy wick braid material. The copper braid around a television cable that works as a ground will work just fine, or a thin copper wire with or without the insulation. Probably the determining factor is figuring out just how much compression is on that particular spring when the light is assembled. If the spring isn’t getting squashed down very far, a simple wire works just fine.

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Silicone wire is very flexible.

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Ouchyfoot wrote:
Silicone wire is very flexible.

+1, will have to try that. More stiff than braid, but might be more durable.

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Great write-up, relic.  It's amazing what this can do to some lights, even with just wire looped around a few times.  Every Solarforce host I've done this to measures a few more mA.

Foy needs to do it the right way.  (as seen above)

 

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