Solarforce K3 Modded & Compared - Pics w/Vid *Pic Heavy*

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DB Custom
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Solarforce K3 Modded & Compared - Pics w/Vid *Pic Heavy*

Being as how I’ve made more than my share of posts on the existing threads on this light, I figured I should start my own for the video and accompanying photo’s. So please bear with me on this, the 3rd such thread on Solarforce’s new K3 MT-G2 head unit.

For the record, this light is no longer in stock 1500 lumen form. Comfychair helped me make the mods with very generous and patient instruction on driver how-to in order to get a standard Q-Lite 105c driver with 8× 7135 chips pushing 3.04A to run off of 2 18650 cells at 8.4V with 12 chips and run 4.40A through my MT-G2 for some 2400 lumens of awesomeness! Smile

Let me address this mod first. The driver no longer has reverse polarity protection, nor does it have over discharge protection. What it does have is oomph! By removing the polarity diode at the base of the LED positive lead and replacing it with a 200 ohm resistor, and by stacking a 4.3V Zener diode on the capacitor on the spring side of the board, this anassuming driver is now the heart of a beast!

The breakdown
DBC_July 29, 2013_153944-2

The stock driver…note that I added a 6.5mm x 18mm slab of copper up inside the pill under the emitter in my mod for heat sinking
DBC_July 29, 2013_153820-2

Perspective on the parts
DBC_July 29, 2013_153721-2

Another angle
DBC_July 29, 2013_153513-2

32mm slab of copper under the MT-G2 emitter, thanks Solarforce! Smile
DBC_July 26, 2013_194853-2

Trying to come to grips with what needed to be done to the driver
Resistor and zener placement

The Q-Lite 105c driver, modified
DBC_August 01, 2013_123502-2
DBC_August 01, 2013_123342-2

The copper plug in the pill for heat-sink, glued in with Arctic Silver Thermal Adhesive
DBC_August 03, 2013_181634-2

Added copper plate on top of stacked chips for heat dispersion
DBC_August 03, 2013_181716-2

This animated GIF shows a before and after of the stock vs modified K3 In looking a straight line towards the red oil drum, the pavement at the bottom of the picture is 15 yards from the camera, the edge of pavement further out towards the drum is 28 yards from the camera. G1X zoomed in to 112mm equivalent. (4x optical)
Solarforce-K3-Stock-vs-Modified

And this video shows comparison to A) The L2P running an EDC+ Triple XP-G2 at 720 lumens OTF B) The Solarforce S2200 (updated 7:18PM 8.3.13)

Here’s a line-up for comparison purposes, featuring (1) Maglite 2D with Western Robotics Voltage Monitor and running 2 32650 cells powering an SSC P7, (2) the Solarforce S2200, (3) the Solarforce K3 with L2P host and an extension, capped with their 2 pronged SS forward clicky tail switch, (4) the Solarforce M3 on an L2P host…modified with XM-L U2 emitter de-domed and on a SinkPAD, driver swapped to one of Eriks 5 mode wonders and bumped with 2 more chips for 4.28A output, capped with their 4 pronged SS forward clicky tail switch, (5) a generic L2P host with no text carrying an EDC+ Triple Nichia 219, and (6) a Solarforce P1D with el cheapo 800 lumen XM-L2 drop-in.
DBC_August 03, 2013_111443

The K3 standing up to it’s big brother, the S2200
DBC_August 03, 2013_111635

Side by side, those MT-G2 emitters sure are pretty!
DBC_August 03, 2013_111926

Now standing up for it’s little brother, the M3 (who now needs no help and stands pretty proud on it’s own!)
DBC_August 03, 2013_112126

The MT-G2 as compared to the M3s dedomed XM-L emitter
DBC_August 03, 2013_112042

The K3 and M3 go head to head
DBC_August 03, 2013_112225

SSC P7 in a Purple Maglite vs the K3 vs the P1D
DBC_August 03, 2013_112352

SSC P7 Maglite vs. the K3 vs. the M3
DBC_August 03, 2013_112425

The Solarforce P1D trying to measure up
DBC_August 03, 2013_112604

The L2P w/EDC+ Triple Nichia 219 vs. the K3 vs. the P1D
DBC_August 03, 2013_112713

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my devoted camera crew. My wife Mary who handled the lighting, my buddy Shadow who so studiously checked all the equipment and made sure to oversee every move made (thanks Buddy, my leg, hands, and 1DsMkII are now spotless!) and Mr. Henry Yellowjacket who generously provided the Texas Pink Granite table top for shooting and did not kill me. (I’m allergic and he was about a foot from my crotch setting up the shots)
DBC_August 03, 2013_113010
DBC_August 03, 2013_113107

Edited by: DB Custom on 08/05/2013 - 10:24
rikr
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Awesome job!!! Thank you for sharing. The S2200 looks awesome!! The K3 is very nice also!

 

 

 New Collection / Old Collection

 
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Very nice my friend, VERY NICE! And the K3 isnt that much bigger than the M3, but is MUCH smaller than the 2200. With all that output in such a small package that is a KILLER modded setup you got there. Beam shots and video are A+ too!!

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Have you done any measurements of actual amperage and voltage thru the emitter? If the driver is actually giving 4.12 amps to the led, then the voltage should be somewhere just under 7 volts. It would be interesting to know.

That light is so bright in the first photo, it made the black car swell from the heat and turn white.Wink

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My daughter was here in her dark blue Honda Civic when I took the pics when the K3 was stock. My white Dodge Caravan took her cars place for the pics I took day before yesterday.

I haven’t taken those measurements. Not sure I know how. Or maybe I’ve seen it talked about here but am scared to do what it takes. lol Do I have to take a lead off the emitter and run it through my DMM? Essentially inserting my DMM between the driver and LED? That 32mm slab of copper makes soldering leads difficult, even with my Hakko 888…I had to crank it up to near max to get enough heat through it to make connections.

Thanks guys. Similar output with the nod going to the K3 in sheer total light, but the S2200 out throws the K3 and out lasts it as well. With these mods, the little K3 gets hot…fast! The entire video above is 4:13 in length, the K3 wasn’t running the entire time but when I turned the camera off the light was very warm, almost too hot to hold at the head. At least I know my heat-sink and pill wrap are doing the job of taking heat to the head. Wink

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The pics are uploaded to Flickr in High Resolution, click the pick to open it in Flickr, click it again to enlarge, then right click to select original image size or less for a very close detail shot. Wink

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Has this driver modification been discussed before here? If so can you provide a link? Seems very interesting.

MattSPL
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Nice job :bigsmile:

Where do you source the resistor and zener? I have a few 105c drivers here, so might order a K3 to mod.

Thanks for sharing this.

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But I think there’s a zener right there on the original driver, so all you’d need in addition is a 200 ohm resistor…preferably a thin film style as it fits neatly in place of the polarity diode.

1
RoHS: Compliant through Exemption1

71-CRCW0805200RFKEB CRCW0805200RFKEB 1/8watt 200ohms 1% 07/29/13 10 0.048 0.48

2
RoHS: Compliant2

512-MMSZ5229B MMSZ5229B 4.3V 0.5W Zener 07/29/13 10 0.149 1.49

Really expensive stuff, huh? Seriously in multiples of 10 they were cheaper than a soft drink.

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Thanks for sharing.

Nice photos!!

*FMI* i got 4 i/o sh
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Appreciate it.

MattSPL
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DBCstm wrote:
But I think there’s a zener right there on the original driver, so all you’d need in addition is a 200 ohm resistor…preferably a thin film style as it fits neatly in place of the polarity diode.

1
RoHS: Compliant through Exemption1

71-CRCW0805200RFKEB CRCW0805200RFKEB 1/8watt 200ohms 1% 07/29/13 10 0.048 0.48

2
RoHS: Compliant2

512-MMSZ5229B MMSZ5229B 4.3V 0.5W Zener 07/29/13 10 0.149 1.49

Really expensive stuff, huh? Seriously in multiples of 10 they were cheaper than a soft drink.

Ok thanks :bigsmile:

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DBCstm wrote:
I haven’t taken those measurements. Not sure I know how. Or maybe I’ve seen it talked about here but am scared to do what it takes. lol Do I have to take a lead off the emitter and run it through my DMM? Essentially inserting my DMM between the driver and LED
Don't get me to lying, I did read how to do it once, but I don't remember where.

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Thanks DBC. Looks like you have yourself a real nice light there. The emitter measurement at the led is no different than taking a measurement at the tailcap. Remove the earth wire to the led and run it through the meter and back to the led. You know that you really do need a lathe. When is it coming?
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Wonderful pictures! And a nice mod!

Looking forward to emitter current measurement. Smile

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DB Custom
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pulling a lead from the emitter and having to solder it back on just for that reading? Doesn’t the tail cap reading say enough? That 32mm copper star on thick aluminum with a 1/4” of copper underneath it sure makes it difficult to solder a lead!

If you think it’s worth getting that number, I’ll consider it. But really, what’s it going to tell us that 4.05-4.15 at the tail doesn’t say? I suppose I’d also have to run it in Voltage configuration to see what the Vf is at x amperage reading while I was there, right?

I’m still new enough at all this that when I get a build done and it works I’m scared to mess with it in fear it’ll fall off the cliff it’s been perched on the edge of.

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With my limited testing and experience you will probably get between half and two thirds the current reading at the led compared to the tailcap which has something to do with the higher forward voltage. You get a lower current measurement than you would if you had an XM-L led in its place.

I’m not sure if you have seen this thread.

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/22379

 

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DB Custom
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to really get an estimate on how many lumens it’s putting out is to take an amperage and voltage reading directly from the emitter?

Here’s some more numbers for the numbers freaks…start at 91.1º and in 5 minutes it’s at 133.3º. Pulled cells, top cell showed 109.9º at the positive end. The host was sucking heat from the head at an alarming rate, which is why I pulled the cells immediately. It get’s hot, it spreads it, but man it’s bright for that 5 minutes! Smile Cells went down from a freshly charged 4.20 to 4.03.

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I looked earlier and didn’t find it and got distracted. Sorry bout that. Try reading this thread and I believe you’ll find the answers or the people that have them.
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/22379

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DBCstm wrote:
I looked earlier and didn't find it and got distracted. Sorry bout that. Try reading this thread and I believe you'll find the answers or the people that have them. http://budgetlightforum.com/node/22379[/quote]

Ah thanks! And no problem. I forgot 7135s don't have the 6v limit like the MCU, but they are all about how much voltage they can drop before burning up. Now I just need to think about how that zener diode and resistor work to drop the voltage to the MCU. I'll have to break out my "Electronics for Dummies" book again.

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And I got 6.42Vf on high. So those 12 7135 chips are scrubbing 2V between em, before taking sag into consideration. Not any worse than a 4.2V cell running a 3Vf emitter with 8 chips.

I’m told the chips DO have a 6V limit, the MCU has a 5V limit.

I also got some crazy numbers taking amperage readings, but can’t believe em so won’t even post em. Ultimately I ended up with a last tail reading of 4.41A, taken the way I always take tail readings. I’ll leave it at that. I will say though, like I did on the other thread where all this is being discussed, this K3 pointed at the ceiling lights up the room better than my S2200, even better than my Elektrolumens Triple XM-L2. And for me, for this little light to do that, that’s saying a lot!

Edit: I set up the Canon G1X in my bedroom, limo tint on the windows and specially made “room darkening” blind drawn tight. (The blinds are narrow with the cord cuts also as tight as they can be made, custom fitted to the window frame to allow minimal light to pass) Aperture priority with aperture on 2.8, ISO on 800. A test exposure took 1 second. The Elektrolumens Triple XM-L2 pulling 8.48A pointed at the ceiling exposed at 1/10 second. Same point for the Solarforce S2200 on Hi, exposed at 1/15 second. Again, same point for the K3 exposed at 1/20 second. The camera shows the K3 is clearly brighter than my other monster lights!

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i think the zener limits the voltage to the MCU, but may be wrong... i always thought a zener was used to have a low voltage cutoff, but i dont really know much about this stuff, maybe they can be used in reverse 

did you stack the zener and resistor, or remove the stock parts and replace them?

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put the resistor in the polarity diode’s place (removed the polarity diode)

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So the 7135's do have a 6v limit (too lazy to pull up data sheet on my phone)? Will they just not last as long pushing 8.4v minus sag?

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A voltage measurement is only a measure of a potential difference between two points in a circuit. The current-carrying part of the 7135 never sees the 8.4v input voltage, as it has no connection to the positive side of the power circuit, only to the LED- and GND. The voltage between those two points is only 2v.

The zener/resistor mod takes care of limiting the voltage for the MCU and the voltage the MCU applies to the Vdd pin on the 7135.

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The zener diode is a controlled leak in the power supply to the MCU. Being installed 'backwards' between the MCU's power pin #8 and ground, any voltage above its rated voltage is 'leaked' away to gnd, so a 4.3v zener will work like a pressure regulator or a bleed-off valve and maintain voltage on that line at... 4.3v. If the voltage applied is less than the rated 4.3v, the zener will block current flow like a normal diode.

The ~200 ohm resistor is there to limit the current available to be leaked away through the zener. Without the resistor the zener would either burn up or waste too much battery power.

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Appreciate the explanation. Loving the modded K3! Hot little demon that it is…

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In trying to take amperage measurements at the emitter, I took a close look at my stacked chips. The tail numbers I’d gotten previously seemed low at 4.05-4.12A. Seems like one of the chips I added wasn’t making a good connection so I made an attempt to add solder to it to see if I could regain that chip. And it seems to have worked! I’m now getting a solid 4.40A reading, even off not-quite-so-fresh cells. No flickering numbers, easily repeatable 4.40A. The numbers add up to 4.56A at 380mA chips, but I understand the ratings aren’t usually correct and 380’s tend to run a bit lower while 350’s tend to run a bit higher. So this makes perfect sense now and all seems to be working as it should.

Also added some thermal paste around the copper slug in the pill to help it make contact with the sides better. And as mentioned I added a copper plate on top of the chips.

I’ll get the cells charged up fresh and run the heat test again, see if there’s any visible difference in the amount of time it takes to reach Hot! Smile

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Oh, and you're aware that's a faux-copper MCPCB with a dielectric layer, right?

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So I might just have to implement my plan and take it a step further, make a pillar atop the heat sink to bring that dead phoenix back up from the ashes. And here I was thinking they did something right! That’s it! I’m not buying another Solarforce light no matter what! This week.

Thanks for letting me know.

<—-goesoffgrumblingandcursingunderhisbreath,swearingvengeanceonthepennypinchingtightwadsthatunderdesignflashlightsforaliving

And where’s the best place to buy Noctigon pads for MT-G2?

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Had I known that the “copper pcb” was of that variety, I’d never have glued it down! Now how am I gonna get that bad boy outta there? Do you know what bin the MT-G2 is? Like, does Solarforce use the 5000K PO group emitter? Is that one readily available? Cause I’ll flame that one out of there if I have to! Hate liars, and that bogus copper board is a blatant lie! OTOH, it does make a ton of lumens, so a change would only make it better, right? Smile This is the side of modding that gets exasperating…

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