The There Are No Stupid Questions Thread

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xevious
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Anyone here ever put together a “basic maintenance & troubleshooting kit” list for flashlights?

Something like this:

  • microfiber cloth for cleaning glass
  • toothbrush for cleaning debris from crevices
  • thin plastic disc (cut from any plastic containers) to shield battery from circuit (if no physical lockout possible)
  • paper clip for cleaning holes or pushing small tethers/strings through lanyard holes
  • mini battery tester for quick check of battery viability (doesn’t need to be super accurate, just general reading)
  • battery case for spare batteries, tube preferrable

Btw, discovered that a knitting needle can come in handy. My old Olight S2A had been loaned to a friend for a while. They had replaced the batteries with Duracell AA’s. I had forgotten to check… and as it turns out, those @#$%^&! Duracells leaked. I’ve posted about these before. Duracells are Duraleaks. You can be nearly guaranteed that they will leak if in a circuit that is mostly off, like backup flashlights and remotes. I’ve had DOZENS of Duracell leaks, compared to just one from Energizers (over 10 years ago). OK, so I take out the cells. White & green powder galore. I clean out the light tube and tail cap. But… I’m having trouble inserting new cells. WTH? Turns out some of the leakage corroded the inner tube wall. It was jutting out enough to obstruct battery movement. How the heck would I clean it out? Well, I took a knitting needle and using the back end with the large round “head”, I could scrape that over the corrosion. I was able to scrape it down until smooth enough that a battery cell could get by it. So, from now on, I’m making sure I keep a knitting needle in my flashlight junk drawer of DIY & MacGyver tools.

Lightbringer
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I got a set of pipecleaners (nylon, brass, steel) for just such occurrences.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076F98493/

Forgot which light I used it on a while back. 2×AA or 2×AAA, forgot, but it worked pretty well.

Just don’t breathe in the dust that comes flying out.

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shirnask
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Lightbringer wrote:
I got a set of pipecleaners (nylon, brass, steel) for just such occurrences.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076F98493/

More than I would like to spend but I have needed something like this for a while.

Shame on you for spending my money like that Silly

Lightbringer
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My work here is done.

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While you’re spending money, these can make you cry a little. BRM is known for flex-hones but they make all kinds of stuff. These mini tube brushes are hands down the best you can get and there’s just no comparison to all the cheapies out there (if you can find them in these small sizes that aren’t the wimpy soft nylon type for paint guns or carburetor jets). Looks like amazon is out of all of them but they make them in SAE or metric, stainless or nylon. I grabbed a set of each in stainless when they were at bargain prices of I think $38…yay covid stimulus. But gosh darn am I glad I got them. Haven’t needed them for lights of course but just general shop tool stuff. The pin vise that comes with them is the meh type with two double-ended collets but fine for this use.

https://www.amazon.com/Brush-Research-81AMMKIT-Stainless-Metric/dp/B00UH...

lionheart_2281
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xevious wrote:
Anyone here ever put together a “basic maintenance & troubleshooting kit” list for flashlights?

Something like this:

  • microfiber cloth for cleaning glass
  • toothbrush for cleaning debris from crevices
  • thin plastic disc (cut from any plastic containers) to shield battery from circuit (if no physical lockout possible)
  • paper clip for cleaning holes or pushing small tethers/strings through lanyard holes
  • mini battery tester for quick check of battery viability (doesn’t need to be super accurate, just general reading)
  • battery case for spare batteries, tube preferrable

Btw, discovered that a knitting needle can come in handy. My old Olight S2A had been loaned to a friend for a while. They had replaced the batteries with Duracell AA’s. I had forgotten to check… and as it turns out, those @#$%^&! Duracells leaked. I’ve posted about these before. Duracells are Duraleaks. You can be nearly guaranteed that they will leak if in a circuit that is mostly off, like backup flashlights and remotes. I’ve had DOZENS of Duracell leaks, compared to just one from Energizers (over 10 years ago). OK, so I take out the cells. White & green powder galore. I clean out the light tube and tail cap. But… I’m having trouble inserting new cells. WTH? Turns out some of the leakage corroded the inner tube wall. It was jutting out enough to obstruct battery movement. How the heck would I clean it out? Well, I took a knitting needle and using the back end with the large round “head”, I could scrape that over the corrosion. I was able to scrape it down until smooth enough that a battery cell could get by it. So, from now on, I’m making sure I keep a knitting needle in my flashlight junk drawer of DIY & MacGyver tools.

Add some Nyogel for threads and ya got a pretty good little kit there

shirnask
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Correllux wrote:
While you’re spending money, these can make you cry a little. BRM is known for flex-hones but they make all kinds of stuff. These mini tube brushes are hands down the best you can get and there’s just no comparison to all the cheapies out there (if you can find them in these small sizes that aren’t the wimpy soft nylon type for paint guns or carburetor jets). Looks like amazon is out of all of them but they make them in SAE or metric, stainless or nylon. I grabbed a set of each in stainless when they were at bargain prices of I think $38…yay covid stimulus. But gosh darn am I glad I got them. Haven’t needed them for lights of course but just general shop tool stuff. The pin vise that comes with them is the meh type with two double-ended collets but fine for this use. g !

Thanks for the tip, but fortunately for my wallet they don’t seem to be available anywhere that I can find. Smile

CollectEverything
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shirnask wrote:
Correllux wrote:
While you’re spending money, these can make you cry a little. BRM is known for flex-hones but they make all kinds of stuff. These mini tube brushes are hands down the best you can get and there’s just no comparison to all the cheapies out there (if you can find them in these small sizes that aren’t the wimpy soft nylon type for paint guns or carburetor jets). Looks like amazon is out of all of them but they make them in SAE or metric, stainless or nylon. I grabbed a set of each in stainless when they were at bargain prices of I think $38…yay covid stimulus. But gosh darn am I glad I got them. Haven’t needed them for lights of course but just general shop tool stuff. The pin vise that comes with them is the meh type with two double-ended collets but fine for this use. g !

Thanks for the tip, but fortunately for my wallet they don’t seem to be available anywhere that I can find. Smile


$51.51 USD here: http://www.brushresearch.com/brushes.php?c1=77 Shocked

EDIT: NVM they are back-ordered there.

------------------

My Collection

------------------

shirnask
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Thanks CollectEverythjing for looking but yes, I found the same unavailable listing.

xevious
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Lightbringer wrote:
I got a set of pipecleaners (nylon, brass, steel) for just such occurrences.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076F98493/

Forgot which light I used it on a while back. 2×AA or 2×AAA, forgot, but it worked pretty well.

Just don’t breathe in the dust that comes flying out.

Nice set. If I had other uses for these, I’d likely pick up this set. I might have to hit Harbor Freight and see if they’ve got a smaller subset for less.
lionheart_2281 wrote:
Add some Nyogel for threads and ya got a pretty good little kit there
Yes! I actually have a tube of Nyogel. I also have a gel lubricant designed for o-rings of pool pumps, which also works. But the Nyogel is slightly more fluid and spreads nicely. It also seems to last longer.
Sidney Stratton
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I just so piggybacked some 7135s onto an MTN 8x to make 12x. Worked for some seconds then dropped to very dim.

Did I overdo the MCU’s driver capability? I had also changed the cap from 38µF to 22µF as I was double-clicking for mode advance.

The cap went open circuit so I returned it to the original value – same outcome.

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What is the attraction of having a fully regulated light which keeps the brightness constant as cell drops the voltage? Isn’t the “missing” brightness just burned as heat by the 7135 regulator as “virtual resistance”? I am talking about single lithium cell based lights which are the vast majority at least when we discuss them here.

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Regulated means more consistent. Unless you got a buck or buck-boost driver for more efficiency, the regulator approach just means more consistent light, vs brighter at first and then dimming as the SOC decreases. It’s still a resistance either way, constant with the cheapies, variable (to maintain constant brightness) with linear regulators.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about lower brightness with a high Vf LED, or cooking it to death with a low Vf LED, or the state of the springs, and high- vs low-drain cells, etc.

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story
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Is there a ramping driver for the L7 SBT90.2?

xevious
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This may sound like a stupid question for some folks here, but it’s something that has been bugging me…

A battery has an anode (-) and a cathode (+) end. In order for power to flow, a wired connection of the anode AND cathode into a circuit is required. In a metal body flashlight, the rear spring connects the anode and the driver contact pad or spring connects the cathode. A switch is in the path, which can open and close this circuit.

So, when you do a physical lockout of the flashlight, you unscrew the end cap or head a bit, which ends the compression of the battery against the 2 contacts. Now there is a gap. And so, one would presume that you’ve got a physical lockout.

But I realize that this isn’t totally correct. If the metal tube threads are not anodized, the connection isn’t broken. There’s still a circuit. This is what puzzles me… as there is no longer two contacts touching the battery. There should be no power to the circuit.

HOW is the circuit being made?
EDIT: Due to tension requirements, most flashlights will make electrical contacts to the battery at the very start of end cap screw-on installation. With screw threads not anodized, as soon as threading begins electrical contact is made.

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You unscrew the tail if it is anodized then there is a break in the tube rim to switch. It is not the relaxing of the spring / compression to the battery. A quarter turn doesn’t disengage the spring pathway.

If the tail end isn’t anodized, there is no physical lockout (less you completely unscrew the tail).

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xevious wrote:

So, when you do a physical lockout of the flashlight, you unscrew the end cap or head a bit, which ends the compression of the battery against the 2 contacts. Now there is a gap. And so, one would presume that you’ve got a physical lockout.

It doesn’t. In some light the springs touch the cell’s terminals even before the tailcap touches the tube.
Yes you can’t have mechanical lock out with non anodized threads, or brass/titane/copper lights.

xevious
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thefreeman wrote:
xevious wrote:

So, when you do a physical lockout of the flashlight, you unscrew the end cap or head a bit, which ends the compression of the battery against the 2 contacts. Now there is a gap. And so, one would presume that you’ve got a physical lockout.

It doesn’t. In some light the springs touch the cell’s terminals even before the tailcap touches the tube.
Yes you can’t have mechanical lock out with non anodized threads, or brass/titane/copper lights.

Yes, I get that with some flashlights there’s contact at the very start of thread screw engagement. Eyeballing it with two of my lights, I thought there was enough of a gap. In principle then, is it very common practice for the contact engagement to start very early?
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xevious wrote:
thefreeman wrote:
xevious wrote:

So, when you do a physical lockout of the flashlight, you unscrew the end cap or head a bit, which ends the compression of the battery against the 2 contacts. Now there is a gap. And so, one would presume that you’ve got a physical lockout.

It doesn’t. In some light the springs touch the cell’s terminals even before the tailcap touches the tube.
Yes you can’t have mechanical lock out with non anodized threads, or brass/titane/copper lights.

Yes, I get that with some flashlights there’s contact at the very start of thread screw engagement. Eyeballing it with two of my lights, I thought there was enough of a gap. In principle then, is it very common practice for the contact engagement to start very early?

Yes…depends on the light, though (overall length, spring length, etc).

So…the energy “exits” the negative end of the battery and goes into the spring/switch. It passes the switch and enters into the metal of the flashlight body, traveling through the body up to the ground connection on the driver.

Anodizing serves as an isolator so that current (at normal levels) can’t pass through it. Just like it was paper or plastic or some other thing that doesn’t conduct electricity…but in this case it’s the magic of chemistry that deposits a layer of non-conductive stuff on (and actually in…) the metal.

So the battery is isolated from the inside of the tube by its plastic wrapper…and the insides of tubes are usually anodized as well. The current can only escape through the battery’s + and – terminals.

So…why doesn’t the current pass up through the host metal to the driver when the tailcap is unscrewed a little? That anodizing again. Look carefully at the ends of both the tube and the tailcap. You should see bare exposed metal on the flat surfaces where the two meet and touch when the cap is tightened. The threads on one or both are anodized. So the only place the electricity has to flow is “through” the tailcap metal and into the tube metal through that small flat bare-metal contact point.

If the threads on both cap and tube were not anodized, then the electricity could flow any time, wherever the path of least resistance may be. So unscrewing the cap in that case does break that flat contact area but since the threads are bare, juice still flows. Anodizing prevents that bare metal-to-metal contact on the threads, so the only place left is that flat contact area. And when you unscrew to make a gap….juice can’t go anywhere.

Not all lights are like this of course (beyond just the presence of anodizing), but this is the norm. Some ultra cheap lights don’t work like this and then some complicated lights like the “signal tube” design of the FW3A and Noctigon/Emisar lights don’t work that way either. And some lights can be locked out via the head threads, but some can’t (basically the same reason usually).

I don’t know if this link will be of any help since I think you get the basics already, but scroll to the third graphic…a light that says “battery” and shows the flow of juice. Doesn’t show all the stuff you just asked about but just in case: https://kandepet.com/deconstructing-a-flashlight/

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thefreeman wrote:
xevious wrote:

So, when you do a physical lockout of the flashlight, you unscrew the end cap or head a bit, which ends the compression of the battery against the 2 contacts. Now there is a gap. And so, one would presume that you’ve got a physical lockout.

It doesn’t. In some light the springs touch the cell’s terminals even before the tailcap touches the tube.
Yes you can’t have mechanical lock out with non anodized threads, or brass/titane/copper lights.


The exception is: Emisar has the tail spring on a PCB so the batt-neg is not electrically connected to the cap material, the battery tube screws against the PCB to connect with the batt-neg. In this set-up mechanical lock-out by unscrewing the tail cap works for all body materials and anodisation state.
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djozz wrote:
The exception is: Emisar has the tail spring on a PCB so the batt-neg is not electrically connected to the cap material, the battery tube screws against the PCB to connect with the batt-neg. In this set-up mechanical lock-out by unscrewing the tail cap works for all body materials and anodisation state.

Ah indeed I didn’t notice there was no contact between batt- and the tailcap, that’s a good solution.

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I have no working knowledge of electrical components but have flashed an Emisar D4 once. That being said, why can’t we just flash all drivers to our liking? I know that a MCU has limited capacity but surely there are some firmware(?) out there that will fit. I don’t know how standardized MCUs are though with regards to pinouts if that’s the issue.

How do you know if the MCU is flash-able anyway?

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mitsuki08 wrote:
I have no working knowledge of electrical components but have flashed an Emisar D4 once. That being said, why can’t we just flash all drivers to our liking? I know that a MCU has limited capacity but surely there are some firmware(?) out there that will fit. I don’t know how standardized MCUs are though with regards to pinouts if that’s the issue.

How do you know if the MCU is flash-able anyway?


For the most part we only work with the ATTiny MCUs. They aren’t that common anymore, except with manufacturers that use them specifically to support our firmwares.

In addition to being able to identify and work with other MCUs, we’d have to know how the circuits are controlled by those MCUs – though that can likely be “probed” out by someone with enough expertise

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Scallywag wrote:
mitsuki08 wrote:
I have no working knowledge of electrical components but have flashed an Emisar D4 once. That being said, why can’t we just flash all drivers to our liking? I know that a MCU has limited capacity but surely there are some firmware(?) out there that will fit. I don’t know how standardized MCUs are though with regards to pinouts if that’s the issue.

How do you know if the MCU is flash-able anyway?


For the most part we only work with the ATTiny MCUs. They aren’t that common anymore, except with manufacturers that use them specifically to support our firmwares.

In addition to being able to identify and work with other MCUs, we’d have to know how the circuits are controlled by those MCUs – though that can likely be “probed” out by someone with enough expertise

I see.. sad to hear that. Would you have any idea where to start learning for that? Most UIs are fine with me just want to tweak it a little. Like the SP10S UI is fine with me just wished the moonlight came first.

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mitsuki08 wrote:
I see.. sad to hear that. Would you have any idea where to start learning for that? Most UIs are fine with me just want to tweak it a little. Like the SP10S UI is fine with me just wished the moonlight came first.

For me, learning how to tweak firmware on drivers based on different MCUs is too big of a task. Also, some MCU’s can be locked after firmware flashing so they can not be read or flashed again without going through a lot of hassle, and then you have a some manufacturers that have identification markings on the components scraped off so it’s even harder to figure them out.

It’s much easier to design drivers specifically for lights that I like and use my own firmware for them all. Sure, learning how to design drivers and write firmware takes a lot of time, but once you’re up and running it’s easy to change driver board design to match a light you like rather than figuring out how to hack it to your liking. Some examples: I have a 17mm boost driver and I wanted to use that driver in a Convoy L4 which has a larger diameter and a momentary switch on it. All I had to do was to scale up the driver diameter and add the switch: https://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1836241#comment-1836241
Another example, I wanted to run my own firmware in a headlight so I made a board design specifically for it: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/55899
And here I made one for the ZY-T08: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/40759

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Mike C wrote:
mitsuki08 wrote:
I see.. sad to hear that. Would you have any idea where to start learning for that? Most UIs are fine with me just want to tweak it a little. Like the SP10S UI is fine with me just wished the moonlight came first.

For me, learning how to tweak firmware on drivers based on different MCUs is too big of a task. Also, some MCU’s can be locked after firmware flashing so they can not be read or flashed again without going through a lot of hassle, and then you have a some manufacturers that have identification markings on the components scraped off so it’s even harder to figure them out.

It’s much easier to design drivers specifically for lights that I like and use my own firmware for them all. Sure, learning how to design drivers and write firmware takes a lot of time, but once you’re up and running it’s easy to change driver board design to match a light you like rather than figuring out how to hack it to your liking. Some examples: I have a 17mm boost driver and I wanted to use that driver in a Convoy L4 which has a larger diameter and a momentary switch on it. All I had to do was to scale up the driver diameter and add the switch: https://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1836241#comment-1836241
Another example, I wanted to run my own firmware in a headlight so I made a board design specifically for it: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/55899
And here I made one for the ZY-T08: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/40759

I see, Thanks for the insight.. So from an expert’s perspective it’s not worth it then? I guess it is easier to work with something you are familiar with. After a few years in this forum the most I can do is still just swapping LEDs.

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mitsuki08 wrote:
I see, Thanks for the insight.. So from an expert’s perspective it’s not worth it then? I guess it is easier to work with something you are familiar with. After a few years in this forum the most I can do is still just swapping LEDs.

I can only speak for myself but as I’m not an expert it’s just so much easier to make my own. I started my driver and firmware development here on BLF without previous knowledge of it before, all with the help of tutorials, the wealth of knowledge and people here that where willing to help. The topic of reading firmware from other MCU types and then debugging them for changes is not something that I’ve seen done here, I think for the same reasons as I stated above… But I don’t really know, I’ve never actually tried it, maybe it’s not as hard as I think but now I’m too far down the rabbit hole of making my own to bother.
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I really need to learn how to make PCBs. I’d be fine using the same circuits others develop, but if I could adapt them to a PCB suitable to the particular host I want, that would be the dream.

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Scallywag wrote:
I really need to learn how to make PCBs. I’d be fine using the same circuits others develop, but if I could adapt them to a PCB suitable to the particular host I want, that would be the dream.

I would want to learn that, too. First thing I would do is to shrink a MT09R/GT4 driver from 46mm to 30mm.

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It’s a good time to try kicad, they released the 6th version recently and it has nice improvements over 5.

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