SAiK SA-305 WW XM-L Upgrade

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JohnnyMac
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SAiK SA-305 WW XM-L Upgrade

Some pics of a hurried upgrade to the SAiK SA-305 3*AA torch that I got the other day.

First a few words about this light in stock form.  Simply put it's a great form actor.  Build wise the machining and anno is decent but the 3*AA battery carrier, pill, driver, emitter, and lens all suck. 

  • Battery Carrier:  Sucks because the springs are too soft in it and don't hold the AA cells tight enough.  They bounce in the carrier and can cause the light to change modes when set down harder than softly in tail stand mode. A bump to the rear can also change modes.
  • Lens:  Sucks because it's plastic, scratches easily, and rattles in the bezel because it's too thin.
  • Emitter:  The XR-E Q5 doesn't suck by itself, per say, but in this reflector and driven this poorly it really sucks.  Never have I seen such a pathetically weak, ugly beam in a torch before.
  • Driver:  Junk. 20mm junk driver press fit into the pill. Awful.
  • Pill:  Looks nice until you pop the emitter and see that it is just a hollow pill with the hole in the middle.  Good potential for modding though since it is fairly thick, very wide, and threads into the body for good heat conduction.

Here is what I did to change things up and make a fair light into an awesome one:

  • Pill:  Used a 3/4" step drill to enlarge the hole clear out the lip in the center of the pill/heatsink.  Used a dremel with a small drum sander to enlarge the hole enough to force fit a brass p60 pill into the hole.  Popped the pill back out then wrapped the p60 threads with copper soldering wick. After wrapping them I pressed them hammer fit the pill back into the enlarged heatsink like seating a bearing into it's race.  Once I had it sunk to the correct depth I popped the sink into a vise and hit it with the propane torch to heat it up.  Applied a little flux to the joint which was sucked up by the copper braid on the threads. Next I applied solder which was absorbed into the braid and filled the threads and bonded the pill to the original heat sink.  Cleaned it up with the dremel and a wire brush.  Soldering the driver to the pill resulted in almost instantaneous heating of the pill where I couldn't even touch it for a moment without getting burnt.  It wicks the heat fantastically!
  • Driver: Used a Nanjg 105c 2.8A driver modded to 3-mode (l/m/h)
  • Emitter:  Installed a warm white XM-L I've had sitting around for some time.  Figured it would be a good time to use it and I REALLY like it!
  • Lens: Replaced the plastic lens with one of the thick glass lenses I have for Maglites. Masking taped both side then traced the original lens onto it.  Used the drill press with a sanding drum to grind it down from 52mm to the needed 48mm so it fit snugly into the bezel.
  • Left Eyeball: Modded it with the installation of a small glass chip from grinding down the glass lens to size. Bugged me for a while and thought about going to the ER to have it removed but I don't feel it any more so I'm hoping it flushed out.
  • Switch:  Stock it didn't tail stand without the switch cap sticking out just enough to change mode or break the connection to the battery.  I shaved the nipple from the inside of the cap and sanded down a hair from the switch stem itself.  Clears fine now tail stands awesomely.
  • Reflector:  Nothing.  Turns out it works really well with an XM-L with a nice hotspot and a very smooth ring-free spill.  Very nice and since it's plastic I don't have to worry about it shorting out the emitter.
  • Tripod hole:  Stupid tripod hole goes all the way through the body wall so it's not air tight.  I will be hitting the hardware store for a 1/4-20 nylon bolt to plug it with.  Hopefully I can get one in black with a round/button head on it.

In conclusion, I really like this light now that I've modded it, especially with the glass lens.  It's one of my favorite torches now and was cheap to buy and mod (about $30 total).  Now I just need a 26500 cell.  Unfortunately it won't fit a 26650 cell like the King Kong. I wish it did.

Here are the pics I took of the modded parts and a couple beamshots. I took the shots in my office which is extremely well lit. The pics especially on high make it look like the room was dark. Nice.

The gap visible at the top of the pill is caused by a trough around the heatsink that is about 1-2mm deep where the original 20mm star sat. Kept getting an air bubble there that gave me crap when filling it with solder.  The joint itself is completely filled where it matters.  The only time it's visible is when removed and frankly it embarrasses me but I'm trying not to care. Embarassed

Beam on Low

Beam on High

Edited by: JohnnyMac on 12/16/2011 - 12:15
monchi
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Looks like a sweet light for modding and gifting. I'll def. have to pick one or two up. Nice job...

Sorry to hear about your left eye. Rule #1 when grinding anything is safety glasses!

JohnnyMac
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monchi wrote:

Looks like a sweet light for modding and gifting. I'll def. have to pick one or two up. Nice job...

Sorry to hear about your left eye. Rule #1 when grinding anything is safety glasses!

THanks!  Yeah, I was wearing a filter mask for the grinding dust but didn't figure on any chips (if there was going to be any) going anywhere but to the side but of course there was and one did.  I put the safety glasses on immediately for the rest of the grinding but I guess the horse had already left the barn by that point.  Live and learn. Laughing
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I've recently switched to using harborfreight lab goggles after a piece of plastic came off what I was grinding and deflected under my safety glasses and into my eye.

anyway, nice mod.  If you had recessed the driver into the pill, would a 26650 be closer to fitting?  Are there enough threads on the tail cap to add a ring/spacer to get a few more mm?  I guess if you say it won't fit...I'll take your word for it;)

Ever used devcon aluminum putty?  It is a little expensive for general repair (ie where you'd use jb weld).  I bed rifles with it. 

It has a lot of aluminum in it.  Once it has set up, if you resurface it the same as the surrounding aluminum, it looks very similar.  Although I must say, I have some, and if that were my mod I wouldn't bother filling that tiny gap with it just for looks;)

 

 

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JohnnyMac
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dthrckt wrote:

I've recently switched to using harborfreight lab goggles after a piece of plastic came off what I was grinding and deflected under my safety glasses and into my eye.

anyway, nice mod.  If you had recessed the driver into the pill, would a 26650 be closer to fitting?  Are there enough threads on the tail cap to add a ring/spacer to get a few more mm?  I guess if you say it won't fit...I'll take your word for it;)

Ever used devcon aluminum putty?  It is a little expensive for general repair (ie where you'd use jb weld).  I bed rifles with it. 

It has a lot of aluminum in it.  Once it has set up, if you resurface it the same as the surrounding aluminum, it looks very similar.  Although I must say, I have some, and if that were my mod I wouldn't bother filling that tiny gap with it just for looks;)

 

 

Hmmm...Even with the driver flush I kind of doubt a 26650, especially a protected one, would fit.  It would be very close for an unprotected cell to fit but it would be tough to have the driver flush with the bottom of the heat sink unless you raised the emitter, thickened/changed the heatsink, and modified the reflector to be shorter.  To me it's not worth it and I'd rather just go with a 26500 and keep the trouble down.

It sure would have been great if the fat body was just a couple mm fatter and longer so it could fit a 32650 cell.  That would be pimp!

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JohnnyMac wrote:

Here is what I did to change things up and make a fair light into an awesome one:

  • Left Eyeball: Modded it with the installation of a small glass chip from grinding down the glass lens to size. Bugged me for a while and thought about going to the ER to have it removed but I don't feel it any more so I'm hoping it flushed out.

At least you kept your sense of humor. Wink

 Glad you didn't have to go to ER. I think the SAiK would be a great stock light if they would redesign it a little and put a real emitter in it.

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Old-Lumens wrote:

JohnnyMac wrote:

Here is what I did to change things up and make a fair light into an awesome one:

  • Left Eyeball: Modded it with the installation of a small glass chip from grinding down the glass lens to size. Bugged me for a while and thought about going to the ER to have it removed but I don't feel it any more so I'm hoping it flushed out.

At least you kept your sense of humor. Wink

 Glad you didn't have to go to ER. I think the SAiK would be a great stock light if they would redesign it a little and put a real emitter in it.

Honestly the real reason I didn't want to go was having to pay a $100 deductable for the hospital visit.  That would have turned this $30 total investment into a $130 torch and it would have killed me knowing what I could have just gone and bought for $130 in the first place.  A V60C for example! Tongue Out Laughing
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Hmm, looks very interesting!  It seems as though that hotspot is really tight, at least compared to my MCU-C88 w/ XML, but that might be due to the distance the light was from the wall.

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Another good mod for this light. Nice work.

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Essexman wrote:

Another good mod for this light. Nice work.

Thanks! 
Hikelite
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Nice mod, JohnnyMac. 

A 26650 will definitely not work. Maybe a 32600.

This si how it looks.

Photo from: http://laserpointerforums.com/f52/2w-saik-sa-305-26650-host-w-massive-mo...

The 32600 cells are 5000mAh.

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Just a thought - what about using (3) 14500's in parallel in a battery carrier?  I know the existing carrier is series, could it be modded?  Probably still easier to go with the 25500 cell.  Really disappointed the 26650 and 32650 are a no go!  This could have been nearly perfect for my need!  What do you think about an XP-G driven with the 1.4A Nanjg driver in this?  Stock reflector ok for XP-G too? Looking for good throw with useable spill. 

How hard is it to grind the lens?  Of course I'll wear safety glasses! 

Oh, and what size emitter board fits the p60 pill?  16mm?

Thanks,
-Garry

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Nice deatailed info and great mod. Never tought that the saik internals are that bad...

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32600?  I thought the body is too narrow for a 32XXX cell?  Body need bored?

-Garry

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Hikelite wrote:

Nice mod, JohnnyMac. 

A 26650 will definitely not work. Maybe a 32600.

This si how it looks.

Photo from: http://laserpointerforums.com/f52/2w-saik-sa-305-26650-host-w-massive-mo...

The 32600 cells are 5000mAh.

Sure would be nice if a 32600 did fit. I think Old Lumens measured the battery tube I.D. at around 31mm IIRC.  I will have to break out the calipers and measure mine to confirm.  Perhaps older versions were a hair wider or the one in that pic was bored out a little. Rereading the pic description, that is a 26650 and not a 32650. There is quite a bit of meat in the tail cap of this beast. Perhaps someone with a lathe could easily bore out more depth in the tail cap and fit a 26650. Wouldn't be hard to take another 5mm or metal out of it.

Unlike most 3*AA or 3*AAA carriers that are designed to be 65mm long, they appear to have made this carrier as short as possible to keep the overall length of the light down.  A shame really as I'd love to be able to fit a full sized 32650 in it.  Would be perfect!!

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garrybunk wrote:

Oh, and what size emitter board fits the p60 pill?  16mm?

Thanks,
-Garry

Yes 16mm, and down.

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On the same forum I've found this:

But it all depends on the heatsink size and driver size combination.

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garrybunk wrote:

Just a thought - what about using (3) 14500's in parallel in a battery carrier?  I know the existing carrier is series, could it be modded?  Probably still easier to go with the 25500 cell.  Really disappointed the 26650 and 32650 are a no go!  This could have been nearly perfect for my need!  What do you think about an XP-G driven with the 1.4A Nanjg driver in this?  Stock reflector ok for XP-G too? Looking for good throw with useable spill. 

How hard is it to grind the lens?  Of course I'll wear safety glasses! 

Oh, and what size emitter board fits the p60 pill?  16mm?

Thanks,
-Garry

Garry, I think an XP-G at 1.4A would work great.

The glass is easy to grind. just very time consuming.  I went through 2 or 3  2" sanding drums on my drill press just to grind down 1 lens.  Glass eats the hell out of the drums.  If you have a belt sander it'd be easier I suppose.

As for 3*14500 cells in parallel I'm sure it's easily doable.  Shouldn't be too hard to rebuild the battery carrier or even make a better one from scratch. I'd rather just go with a 26500 for less money and more capacity and keep the 3*AA carrier for emergency use. I'm sure if you had access to a lathe/mill you could take enough metal out of the beefy tailcap to fit a 26650 cell. That tail cap weighs almost as much as the whole rest of the light. LOL.

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Hey Johnny,

           Just got my Saik in and I'm thinking of maybe changing my mind to an XM-L with either the 1.4A or 2.8A driver.  How is the 2.8A driver on 3 AA's?  Can the AA's handle that current draw?  (Thinking NiMh cells, not alkalines, but what would alkalines be like?) Thinking this light would make a good "flooder" with XM-L.

-Garry

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Garry! The batteries or the holder just dont allow it to be bright with the xm-l compared with other lights. If I put in an 18650 and work it to get a connection it really comes to life. If all your using is AA cells then the 1.4A is plenty. If you want to run li-ion then a 2.8A is a must. Let me know what you end up doing. Good luck!

Johnny

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Hmm. . . decisions decisions! The only LED on me right now is a DX XP-G R5 (7000k). I'd like a neutral white XM-L really, but not sure where to buy one. Any suggestions? I'll probably just put the XP-G in for now and maybe swap to an XM-L later. I would like to go with 3AA's. -Garry

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Here's a thought. What about boring the body out a tad and using a D cell NiMh driving an XM-L with a boost driver? I saw a 700mah boost driver - Illumination Supply? I've also seem one around 1A at DX. 700mA would give around 250 lumens from an XM-L. Of course I'm not pushing for max output, but a very usable light with great runtime. -Garry

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Ok, three posts in a row, I know . . . I threw some NiMh's in this light and tested it out and I must say that it's not nearly as bad as you all (y'all for you southern USA folk - I spent 2 years in Georgia) made it sound to be.  The machining is my only real complaint.  It barely has any threads on the tail and seems like those threads will start cross-threading and wearing out pretty quick.  The beam is a bit ringy, but not that nasty and not too noticeable outdoors.  It does throw!  I can easily light up a treeline from the street to my rear property line which is 400'.  I would say at about 150' the hotspot is about 10' in diameter (not a pencil beam).  Mine tailstands just fine with no mods.  The switch only takes a very slight press to change modes (I kept turning it off by accident - it's very sensitive).  Mine does not change modes due to battery rattle.  One negative though, I already lost the lens!  I have no idea where or when.  I took a look at it, thought the lens looked really really clean and then noticed there was none there!  So what size camera filter would fit this?  Would I go with a "48mm" filter (since you mention 48mm lens in the O.P.?  Or does "48mm" in camera filter terminology refer to the bezel diameter? 

-Garry

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I don't know if anyone has ever posted tailcap currents for the stock unit, so here are mine:

High (100%): 0.86A
Low (25%): 0.20A
(On freshly charged Panasonic NiMh cells - very old cells, but holding up well.)

I also found something at Lowes to plug that tripod hole, a 1/4 x 20 set screw:

Set Screw

You can still make out the info on the reverse side of the package.

-Garry

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garrybunk wrote:
Hmm. . . decisions decisions! The only LED on me right now is a DX XP-G R5 (7000k). I'd like a neutral white XM-L really, but not sure where to buy one. Any suggestions? I'll probably just put the XP-G in for now and maybe swap to an XM-L later. I would like to go with 3AA's. -Garry

LED Supply. They have 4500K XML's on 20mm star-nicest tint I've found so far from U.S. dealer.

Rich

"I am the flashlight king! I can light anything!"

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$11.14 + $4.99 shipping . . . guess you pay for faster delivery!  I actually would need a 16mm base though.  I looked at Mouser, but it's difficult to look for what you want and they seem to be bare emitters only.  I did not check Digi-key, but expect them to be similar. 

-Garry

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