How-To: Add Copper Braid to Springs

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MosesM
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Nice how-to and awesome pictures!

I prefer using silicone wire instead of copper braid though, since the braids that I previously did started tearing apart…I might’ve done something wrong :bigsmile:

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Tom E wrote:

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%.

 


thx that’s damn good results. Are those results only expected when running higher currents say 3.5A and above? And what would you attribute the gain to? Copper being a better conductor? the flat braid being the best pathway, and also bypassing the spring which might behave like a coil? or combination of both?

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relic38 wrote:
The GootWick I have is flux-free, which is perfect for this use.

There are so many to choose from, do you have a link to that one?

-Sean

relic38
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I’d recommend 2.0mm wide.
https://www.fasttech.com/products/1004/10002730/1202500
From the pictures, it looks like it has no flux. I got mine with my hot air reflow station kit.

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Tom E
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PyTech - thx that’s damn good results. Are those results only expected when running higher currents say 3.5A and above? And what would you attribute the gain to? Copper being a better conductor? the flat braid being the best pathway, and also bypassing the spring which might behave like a coil? or combination of both?

Well, this is all about the high Vf of an XM-L2 on copper, so, all resistances are bad with this setup, and yes, probably only a big issue like this at high amps. Springs are typically steel coated with something (hopefully), maybe silver. Steel is not an ideal conductor and depends on the quality of the spring, and in budget lights, you're not gonna find quality springs with a good amt of silver.

Ouchyfoot
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I was fiddling around with a light today. I didn't feel like doing much, so I figured I'd add some braid to the tailcap for something to do. When I took it apart, it wasn't much of a switch. A loose spring resting on an aluminum contact all held together by the brass cap torqued down with a nylon washer. Non of my extra switches would fit in the setup, although my McClicky was just a hair away from threading in perfectly.

Since it was apart, I added braid to the spring. I know relic didn't find those brass spring caps to cause any real impedance, but I thought, copper must be better than brass. 

I drilled a hole through the brass cap and stuck a piece of 20AWG wire through the hole. Next I separated and splayed out the wire strands so they would mash up flat against the inside of the cap, added flux and heated up the cap. I let the solder bubble and pool evenly and then get sucked up the wire through the hole. 

 

Looks good. Snipped off the excess, ground it flush with the dremel and used the buffing wheel with some knife stropping compound. 

i know it really won't have any effect on this particular light, but I like the idea af having the battery contacting copper, which contacts with the braiding on the spring. I'll try this with my builds where I'm trying to tweak things max and mininamalize resistance. I guess you could also take off the brass cap and throw it away. Next time I'll try it with 14 or 16 AWG wire. It can't hurt, and gives me something to putter with.

relic38
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That is a good idea! Thanks for sharing it!

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light junkie
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Tom E wrote:

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.


Tom are you saying soak in acetone then alcohol to prep braid prior to soldering?

Lj

Tom E
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light junkie wrote:
Tom E wrote:

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.

Tom are you saying soak in acetone then alcohol to prep braid prior to soldering?

Yes, that's what I've been doing to remove any flux that may be in the braid. I'm still not happy with the braid I'm using though - don't feel confident it will hold up in the long term. For some tailcap springs that don't compress much, it's fine, but doing a Shocker battery carrier where compression is extreme with long protected batteries, it takes a beating... I've switched between KP 3400's and Pana PD's, and the difference is extreme with those springs - Pana PD's barely touching it seems like, KP's just about fully compressed.

Ouchyfoot
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You could try flexible silicone wire attached outside the spring. I found the spring compression very tight with protected Panasonic 3400 and Sanyo 2800 in the carrier of my EYE40. I found these protected Panasonics fit nicely.

Tom E
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Interesting, I should try those. But I'm trying to be universal - I don't own a Shocker, but mod'ed like 8 of them, so figuring the KP 3400's are worse case. Silicone wire on the outside might be better in a wrap-around setup, not straight up-down (too much flexing on the solder connections) -- maybe I should try that...

Empire
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No to poor cold water on this thread but it is an old tecneque used on hot rod mags.

Ouchyfoot
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The thread isn’t about innovation, its a “how to” thread.

THE_dAY
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Would these silver plated copper springs be a good alternative to copper braiding?

http://www.amazon.com/Silver-Coated-Beryllium-Copper-Compression-Spring/...

relic38
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I think they will be OK. Berillyum copper is considered toxic (dust and fumes, not solid metal), so the silver plating serves two purposes. I think I have some uncoated ones and I don’t bother with braid on those. If I can confirm they are b-copper, I’ll post a link.

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THE-day, the ones you linked would need to be cut shorter, they would be unstable at that length. I would guess up to 1/2 inch or so would be OK, maybe just cut in half.

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light junkie
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    I did it on my KDC8 and my solarforceL2N tailspring thanks for posting thread on thisn I did with out any major calamities befalling me or poor light thanks again.

Lj

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I like how you did this on the light i won in your give away, its one of the most powerfull single XM-L lights i have now. Smile

That Canadian flashlight guy & Lantern Guru -Den / DBSARlight

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DenB, I received my replacement F13 that I bought a while back, after the giveaway. It was DOA… I took it all apart and put it back together. It is fine now. :~
Doesn’t matter much, since I’ll replace most of the guts with new guts.

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Dimbo The Blinky
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relic38 wrote:
Nail cutters work, but I recommend these very low cost side cutters.
[…]
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.

They’re properly called “Flush Cutters”. These are made of plate steel, bent and sharpened in all the right places. At some point, at the moment you cut a wire, one of the jaws will fly off with a pop. It won’t hurt unless it hits you IN the eyeball, but it’s going to happen.

I use these at work to cut Cat5/Cat6 ethernet cable and occasionally other low-voltage copper cables. The plate-steel arms fail right at the edge of the hinge. Since it happens at the moment of greatest impact in a cut, the result is quite violent, for such a wee bit o’ metal. The flying jaw still has a sharp point and edge, but they don’t tend to fly too far so I doubt they’d stick into anything. They’re cheap enough, I don’t even bother with returning them “under warranty”, usually.

If you’ll invest in a bigger, tougher “semi-flush” cutter, it will handle all but the finest flush cuts, which will be done by this one, all of which will extend this one’s lifespan significantly.

If you take care of a good set of flush cutters, they can be a most awesome tool, regardless of the price… (try it — gently — next time you get a stuck splinter or metal shard…)

+1 on this suggestion!

“There is no darkness but ignorance.”

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relic38 wrote:
THE-day, the ones you linked would need to be cut shorter, they would be unstable at that length. I would guess up to 1/2 inch or so would be OK, maybe just cut in half.

Thanks relic38, after I posted I realized they weren’t the perfect size.
Well I was able to find some silver plated copper springs on an old CPF thread which are the right size.
I’m hoping there are still some left.

Btw, whats your opinion on stiff gold plated springs? Are they good enough to reduce resistance?

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The stiff gold plated springs are usually steel-based. Very high resistance. The gold plating does help a, but mainly prevents rusting. After testing them, I end up putting braid on them.
Edit: I modified this statement slightly based on the test results below.

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I tested what I believed to be copper alloy (possibly beryllium copper) springs that I got from Fasttech . The are definitely not steel and according to Fasttech they are made of “carobronze”, a brand of copper alloy alternative to beryllium copper. Whatever they are, they exhibit superior performance over standard steel springs that we often see on drivers and tailcaps.
I also tested similarly sized chrome-plated and gold-plated steel springs that I removed from flashlights or were on some switches I had.
All three were tested at 5A and the resulting voltage drop across the spring itself was measured. The measurement was taken after the voltage settled due to any heating of the spring.

  • Copper alloy spring: 114mV at 5A = 22.8 mOhm, no significant heating, warm to the touch.
  • Gold-plated steel spring: 301mV at 5A = 60.2 mOhm, spring got very hot and started to smell but no visible smoke.
  • Chrome plated steel spring: 680mV at 5A = 136 mOhm, spring began to smoke and melted my J-clip before I noticed and stopped the test. Flat Stare

Not exactly definitive or comprehensive, but good enough for me. These springs are only about 12-14mm tall, so not the best for every application. I used three in my Copper DIY build, and I am happy with how they work there.
Copper braid/wire can help all three types, but there is a point of diminishing returns, so I only recommend augmenting the spring types that get all hot and bothered if you do not do it.

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^^Appreciate all your efforts relic!

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I de-soldered the driver spring first, and then tried to solder it back with the copper braid attached......

That wasnt much fun... and it took me quite some time, and it doesnt look good, plus the copper braid got quite a bit of solder in it, so it isnt that flexible anymore... hopefully it will hold up.

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Get this - for my Shocker mods, I'm like copper braid'n every freak'n spring, five, and getting good results with higher recorded amps. Well, one of my Shocker customers accidentally shorted the + to - while attempting to measure amps, I think, so, he said the lan on one end of the carrier burned up. He patch'ed it, and got it fully working! But, that got me think'n -- the weakest point of a circuit will burn up on a short, so, those lan's are the weakest point - pretty obvious? So on my latest Shocker build, I added jumper wires over the lans - there is one on each end cap on the underside - longest run lan. So I had a shocker carrier with the extra jumpers, one without - measured amps on Pana PD's with the IOS 3.5A driver (runs direct drive on a Shocker), and got 0.35A higher on the jumpered carrier (4.35 to 4.7A).

So, jumpering the lans made a real measured difference, amps correlate to lumens pretty well on XM-L2's on copper. Crap - on Samsung 20R's, I'm getting over 5 amps, over 4,500 lumens at 30 seconds, 223 kcd, without the jumpered lans - sic...

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Ian?  Are you talking about the battery contact points on the battery carrier?


The low mode should be lower.

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I think he means the traces between the contact points for the cells. I know what he means because I did the same thing (shorted right inside the flashlight, smoke everywhere, scared the daylights out of me). I ended up bridging it as well.
I didn’t go back and do the others, but now I’m thinking I should.

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Tom E
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yes. traces. You can see them by the raised surfaces. There's one short, one long on the underside of each end. I jumpered only the long ones.

applevalleyjoe
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Great thread fellas…lots of good info. Thanks

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maybe a dumb question, but would this mod be helpful to a Sipik 68 clone? The tailcap spring is pretty small. Every little bit helps, right?

thanks!

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