First Post, choosing between a TR-J12 and FandyFire L1

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Siftah
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First Post, choosing between a TR-J12 and FandyFire L1

Hey, First post here, been browsing this forum for a short while and soaking up some of the knowledge. Very useful, thanks all Smile

I've been a big fan of the cheaper chinese lights since picking up a SpiderFire SSC P7, which is still serving me strong. My first decent LED torch was a Fenix TK11, but after seeing the light from the SSC P7, I was turned to cheaper lights and now have a couple of XM-L based lights - beam shots of them all here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/siftah/sets/72157626517017579/with/5684835833/

I've convinced myself I really need a 5xXM-L based light, so I'm currently deciding between these two, the TrustFire TR-J12 and the FandyFire L1. I suspect I'll go for the TrustFire as I like the other TrustFire light I have.

Smile

Lensman
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Welcom to BLF Siftah, nice to see another Limey hereWink I've yet to buy my first 'cannon' so I can't advise, but I always check out a promising link so thanks for posting. Of the two above, the Trustfire definitely looks the better design to me, although someone (much) more knowledgable might tell you it's actually awful.. I'll watch this thread with interest.

Siftah
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I think us Brits are in the minority on the flashlight forums, else I guess they'd be called the torch forums instead Smile

Tending towards the TrustFire myself, certainly looks more robust, though the heatsinking on the FandyFire looks like it *should* be better, from the reviews I've seen of the same torch made with other brands on it, I think the Trustfire's likely to be better made.

Suspect I'll be hitting 'buy' on the TrustFire before the weekend's out Smile

Lensman
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Yes, I did wonder about the minimal 'finning' on the TF, but it just looks better built somehow, more robust; certainly better balanced. Also has mode memory, and it looks like it can tailstand Smile Most folks probably wouldn't consider this a particularly useful feature on such a long heavy torch, but solid tailstand will always be a big plus in my book. I'm sure some of the old hands here will offer much more informed advice..

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TR J12 has about 2000 lummens real, but it's driven by 7.5A its 1.5 each led, fandyfire only 3A its about 0.6A each led.

Siftah
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Well that pretty much decides that then Smile

*pulls the trigger*

Siftah
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Well I got back off holiday today to find it had arrives whilst I was away - seems to be DOA though Sad

Will have to have a play later and see what's up, looks nice apart from that, good build quality and even comes with a decent little carry pouch.

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It needs decent batteries or it will trip the protection

Siftah
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I'm using the 2400mAh TrustFire 18650's with the flame design. They're protected so maybe it's tripping the protection on the cell itself.

Will have a go with some unprotected cells later (hopefully I have some) Smile

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I'm waiting on a Trustfire TR-J12 myself. Should be here in a couple of weeks.

2100
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Siftah wrote:

I'm using the 2400mAh TrustFire 18650's with the flame design. They're protected so maybe it's tripping the protection on the cell itself.

Will have a go with some unprotected cells later (hopefully I have some) Smile

Where did you get the TF Flames?  You tried using 3 x 18650?  Batteries fully charged and verified with DMM? 

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2100 wrote:

Where did you get the TF Flames?

DealExtreme, have had them a few months and been using them successfully in other torches; http://www.dealextreme.com/p/trustfire-protected-18650-3-7v-true-2400mah-rechargeable-lithium-batteries-2-pack-20392

2100 wrote:
 You tried using 3 x 18650?  Batteries fully charged and verified with DMM?

Tried both 3 and 2 cells with the same results (ie: with and without the extension tube). Shaking the torch there doesn't feel to be any movement, ie: I expect that contact is being made on the battery terminals.

Haven't checked the cells with a DMM but I charged them less than a week ago when I took them away with me on holiday as back-up cells. I'm pretty sure they're charged.

Smile

2100
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Hmm...that sounds about right.  Tried using a key as a bridge to make contact from the -ve terminal to the body tube?

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2100 wrote:
Hmm...that sounds about right.  Tried using a key as a bridge to make contact from the -ve terminal to the body tube?

Ah, good thinking!

Just tried with a paper clip, no joy. Tried with two cells in the main body and also three batteries with the extender in place. Also tried cleaning the threads (they're not very smooth but there was a little bit of grease on them).

When I watch very carefully I do get a very tiny spark, but very very tiny. So I guess this would suggest that maybe it is tripping the protection circuit on the cells before powering up the LED. I guess I'll find out in around an hour once I get back home Smile

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Sorry to hear that. If you have a DMM maybe you can check the current draw on the tail, on the 20A setting of course. There sometimes happen little shorts around the positive terminal, by a loose solder or bent spring. Also sometimes battery tube can't make contact to the drivers negative pole. Try reversing the tube or feed the light with a 9v power supply to see if it is the mechanics or the electronics causing this. Some of my p60 hosts could need a few unscrew-screw of the head to let the springs free and make a proper contact to the body.
2100
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Sounds like it's the driver or something at the head end that could be creating a dead short.  Don't try unprotected cells in the light. 

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Thanks guys - all great feedback and advice. I'll try later with a DMM to get a better idea of what's wrong. I'll not try unprotected cells until I've been able to verify there's no shorts or anything similar Smile

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So... I checked with the multimeter and my cells seem fine and the tailcap is working fine, gives me good readings throughout the body and to the head. I see no reason to suspect the threads or anything like that.

There is resistance across the head terminals (driver end) and so it doesn't look like a total short. I've tried with a different set of 2 cells (Ultrafire 2600mAh greens) and some AW/IC 2200mAh cells I had (only had 2 of each unfortunately, so could only do this test with 2 cells).

However, when I shake the head I can hear wobbling, so it seems like the driver board is loose and I suspect that's where the issue is. I'm unsure how to strip the light down any further though, I don't see any obvious way to get at the driver - any hints?

I've unscrewed the plastic end-cap piece, but aren't sure how to get further; 

Pictures here;
http://t.co/rSIrcsqD
http://t.co/gXbZwrWm

Soldering here looks pretty hideous, where, if at all, should I apply +ve and -ve in order to test the connections? I'm presuming one of those outer rings should be attached to the body of the light? http://t.co/eKXRjL05

*EDIT* I consistently measure 0 ohms resistance across the outer of the copper rings and the body of the light, so I guess that means that connection is fine too and the problem is the driver board itself.... so how to get to the driver board? Are these things sealed? 

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Siftah wrote:

So... I checked with the multimeter and my cells seem fine and the tailcap is working fine, gives me good readings throughout the body and to the head. I see no reason to suspect the threads or anything like that.

There is resistance across the head terminals (driver end) and so it doesn't look like a total short. I've tried with a different set of 2 cells (Ultrafire 2600mAh greens) and some AW/IC 2200mAh cells I had (only had 2 of each unfortunately, so could only do this test with 2 cells).

However, when I shake the head I can hear wobbling, so it seems like the driver board is loose and I suspect that's where the issue is. I'm unsure how to strip the light down any further though, I don't see any obvious way to get at the driver - any hints?

I've unscrewed the plastic end-cap piece, but aren't sure how to get further; 

Pictures here;
http://t.co/rSIrcsqD
http://t.co/gXbZwrWm

Soldering here looks pretty hideous, where, if at all, should I apply +ve and -ve in order to test the connections? I'm presuming one of those outer rings should be attached to the body of the light? http://t.co/eKXRjL05

*EDIT* I consistently measure 0 ohms resistance across the outer of the copper rings and the body of the light, so I guess that means that connection is fine too and the problem is the driver board itself.... so how to get to the driver board? Are these things sealed? 

Looking at the pic of the back of the head, are you saying you removed that plastic contact base to see the driver and there is bad soldering underneath it?  If so, how about a pic of the board exposed?  If what you show in the pic is as far as you got with it then use a pair of needle nose pliers with the tips inserted into the two holes and unscrew that nylon disk with the contact in the center.  Your driver is under that. 

If that disk simply applies pressure to the base of the driver then using the needle nosed pliers, try tightening that white nylon disk.  It's possible that it's not pressing against the positive contact of the driver PCB.

Siftah
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JohnnyMac wrote:
Looking at the pic of the back of the head, are you saying you removed that plastic contact base to see the driver and there is bad soldering underneath it?  If so, how about a pic of the board exposed?  If what you show in the pic is as far as you got with it then use a pair of needle nose pliers with the tips inserted into the two holes and unscrew that nylon disk with the contact in the center.  Your driver is under that. 

If that disk simply applies pressure to the base of the driver then using the needle nosed pliers, try tightening that white nylon disk.  It's possible that it's not pressing against the positive contact of the driver PCB.

Thanks - I removed that piece too, it's in the pic: http://t.co/eKXRjL05

Applying a current direct to the outer ring of the driver (visible in that pic) and to that central spring still give me no light, so I'm suspecting the driver itself is at fault - unsure how to get at it though, I see no obvious way to remove it?

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Siftah wrote:

JohnnyMac wrote:
Looking at the pic of the back of the head, are you saying you removed that plastic contact base to see the driver and there is bad soldering underneath it?  If so, how about a pic of the board exposed?  If what you show in the pic is as far as you got with it then use a pair of needle nose pliers with the tips inserted into the two holes and unscrew that nylon disk with the contact in the center.  Your driver is under that. 

If that disk simply applies pressure to the base of the driver then using the needle nosed pliers, try tightening that white nylon disk.  It's possible that it's not pressing against the positive contact of the driver PCB.

Thanks - I removed that piece too, it's in the pic: http://t.co/eKXRjL05

Applying a current direct to the outer ring of the driver (visible in that pic) and to that central spring still give me no light, so I'm suspecting the driver itself is at fault - unsure how to get at it though, I see no obvious way to remove it?

That nylon disk is a great way to hide a hellacious soldering job!

Have you tried gripping the top of the reflector (as shown in your first pic) and unscrewing the entire drop-in from the head?  Once you have the drop-in out you should be able to unsolder or grind off the solder holding the driver into the pill and pop the driver.  Once that is exposed you might find that a wire from the driver to the LEDs is loose or a component on the board is fried/burnt.  Have you contacted the seller before doing this process?

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It's possible that one or more of the leads to (or from) the LEDs has been guillotined during assembly.

I've seen several multi-LED torches now with that problem.  The bottom of the reflector, or the body pass-through (depending on torch) has a sharp edge - during assembly, the wiring is twisted across the sharp edge.

The light may even work initially, then fail after just a short while - or it may arrive DOA, as in your case.

Further examination will require complete dismantling of the torch, so time to break out the soldering iron, and some de-soldering braid.....

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

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Siftah
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JohnnyMac wrote:
That nylon disk is a great way to hide a hellacious soldering job!

Yup, pretty hideous isn't it!

I thought my soldering was pretty ropey, but I'm feeling a lot better about myself after seeing this Wink 

JohnnyMac wrote:
Have you tried gripping the top of the reflector (as shown in your first pic) and unscrewing the entire drop-in from the head?  Once you have the drop-in out you should be able to unsolder or grind off the solder holding the driver into the pill and pop the driver.  Once that is exposed you might find that a wire from the driver to the LEDs is loose or a component on the board is fried/burnt.  Have you contacted the seller before doing this process?

I did try that, but I couldn't get it to budge (I was trying to be gentle though as I wasn't sure if it was supposed to unscrew). Having just tried again, either I'm weaker than I thought or it doesn't want to move.

I've not contacted the seller (DealExtreme), I was hoping to DIY fix it rather than go through their painful returns process. But needs must I guess, perhaps need to make a decision now before I start unsoldering things Smile 

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Chicago X wrote:
It's possible that one or more of the leads to (or from) the LEDs has been guillotined during assembly.

 Thanks - any way to test this electrically? ie: rather than have to dis-assemble the whole thing?

Chicago X wrote:
I've seen several multi-LED torches now with that problem.  The bottom of the reflector, or the body pass-through (depending on torch) has a sharp edge - during assembly, the wiring is twisted across the sharp edge.

The light may even work initially, then fail after just a short while - or it may arrive DOA, as in your case.

Further examination will require complete dismantling of the torch, so time to break out the soldering iron, and some de-soldering braid.....

I'm happy to do that if I need to, just not too clear on where to start. Smile

Chicago X
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Removing enough solder from the bottom of the contact disc to allow access to the driver is a good place to start.

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

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Chicago X wrote:

Removing enough solder from the bottom of the contact disc to allow access to the driver is a good place to start.



I shall give that a go and report back Smile 
Siftah
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So I made some progress in that I realised there's actually another part of the head of the light which un-screws. Unscrewing this has given me access to the driver itself.

In doing that, the problem is obvious - the board has been broken when the head has been screwed back on, it looks like a pretty crappy design.

Here's the section with the driver, showing how it was as I opened it: http://t.co/NBa46cKY

And here's after de-soldering the remaining leg holding the two pieces of the driver together: http://t.co/pv6TIp6P

I don't see how I can fix this myself as it looks like the copper tracks on the board are now missing, hence re-soldering it would not work, am I right?

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Ok, so I thought I'd start playing about and knocked up a join between the two sets of boards; http://t.co/J1TqnI2n

I get 12.38 volts at the red/orange wires which I believe I've soldered onto what's left of the pads.

However, I'm only seeing something like 0.38 volts at the black and white wires which should be leading to the LED's.

Maybe I've not got the wires on the right pads or maybe the driver is bust? Either way, it looks pretty b0rked to me Smile

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The good news is that Manafont has a replacement driver for ~$6

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

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link for that please?

Siftah
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Chicago X wrote:

The good news is that Manafont has a replacement driver for ~$6

Probably quicker than waiting for DX Smile

Link? or place I can read up more details?

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