As requested, 3 XM-L Driver/Emitter module DIY

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Foy
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PilotPTK wrote:

Foy wrote:

Pilot:

I'm in for this one: Cool white U2 Flux 1C Tint, fully assembled module. Can't wait to review this bad boy.

Just tell me where to send the Paypal and when.

 

Foy

I thought you were NeutraWhiteLovingFoy ? ?

 

I am . . . but I'm going for lumens on this deal, or . . . will these neutrals be as bright as the 1C?

 

Foy

No referral links and nothing embedded . . . ever.

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PilotPTK
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Foy wrote:

PilotPTK wrote:

Foy wrote:

Pilot:

I'm in for this one: Cool white U2 Flux 1C Tint, fully assembled module. Can't wait to review this bad boy.

Just tell me where to send the Paypal and when.

 

Foy

I thought you were NeutraWhiteLovingFoy ? ?

 

I am . . . but I'm going for lumens on this deal, or . . . will these neutrals be as bright as the 1C?

 

Foy

U2 Cool is going to be a bit brighter than a Neutral, but we are talking about 3 FULLY driven XM-L's.  It's a lot of light no matter which exact emitter you choose.

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PilotPTK
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mattthemuppet wrote:

looking great Pilot, can't wait to see these in action.

About the programming - can the controller chips be supplied programmed off the board for self-assemblers or can they only be programmed after assembly using the pads on the board?

I can supply them pre-programmed.  It will be a no-cost option.

PPtk

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PilotPTK
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texaspyro wrote:

Gold plating for solder pads can be a bad thing!  Gold tends to form intermetallic compounds with lead/tin/aluminum (google "purple plague" for a well known example).  These can be brittle and poorly conductive.   Components have been known to fall of circuit boards...

The ENIG (Electroless Nickel, Immersion Gold) process has been perfected over the years, and solder joint quality on ENIG is excellent.  "Purple Plague" is really a reference to brittle joints between aluminum and gold and is seen when gold is used inside of a chip package where a wire-bond takes place.  Wire bonding and soldering are very different processes.  "Black-Pad" can be a problem if electro-plated Nickel is used as the base, but circuit board finishes use electroless nickel to avoid that problem.  Even NASA and the U.S. Military approve of the use of ENIG PCBs - And I promise that neither of those agencies would tolerate random components falling off of their assemblies.  Components won't be falling off of these boards.

PPtk

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Sirius9
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These boards look so nice, I bet that fully assembled modules ,would be a real turn on (ok, that sounded a bit weird Tongue Out)

I'm so Cry because I c'not afford something like this...

 

texaspyro
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Purple plague is the aluminum-gold intermetallic.  It is the most common/notorious.  There are also gold-lead and and gold-tin intermetallics.

See the wikipedia article on gold plating.  last section on soldering issues:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_plating

 

You are probably better off masking the gold from the component pads.  There are also some indications that, under the right conditions,  gold may help catalyze the formation of tin whiskers from lead-free solder.  And gold can grow its own whiskers.  But it sure is pretty...

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Wikipedia is cute and all, but I think I'll reference something with a little more qualification..

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories, for instance..

http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/20708/1/98-1767.pdf

 

These are the conclusions after testing the way that solder joints fail on a variety of different component packages and a variety of different PCB finishes.

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

Conclusions 

For  plastic  packages, crack  initiation,  propagation,  and  failure  occurred  at either  the  package  or 

board  interfaces for sections with  or  without  voids. This  was  true  for  A  or B cycle conditions. 

Generally, voids  were  concentrated  near  the  package  interfaces.  There  appeared  to  be  no  crack 

propagation among the voids, except  for the voids  interconnected  at  the interface. 

 

For  a ceramic assembly failure (See Comment Below), brittle failure was observed  for  Nickel-Gold  surface finishes.  OSP and 

HASL  showed  ductile failure through  eutectic solder joints.  For  plastic packages, there  was  no 

distinction between the three surfaces

 

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

The ceramic packages tested were very odd - from the document:

Ceramic packages  with 625 I/Os  and  361  I/Os  were  also  included  in  our  evaluation. Ceramic 

packages  had  high  melting solder  balls  (90Pb/lOSn) with  0.035  inch  diameters. These balls  were 

attached  to  the 'ceramic substrate with  eutectic solder (63Sd37Pb).  At  reflow,  package side eutectic 

solder and the PWB side eutectic paste  was  reflowed to provide the electro-mechanical interconnects.

 

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

 

The high melting point solder is nothing like standard leaded or lead-free.  It's VERY heavy in gold content.  Nothing like that is used on the 3 XM-L Board

 

PPtk

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texaspyro
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I recently built some boards for the military and was expressly forbidden to use solder-on-gold.  Also forbidden to use lead-free solder for that matter.  In their environment,  every little detail matters immensely.  Things that don't matter in a benign, short life consumer environment can quickly turn into nasty problems.  I can also show you some gold plated circuit boards out of some HP test equipment that failed because of the problem.

PilotPTK
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texaspyro wrote:

I recently built some boards for the military and was expressly forbidden to use solder-on-gold.  Also forbidden to use lead-free solder for that matter.  In their environment,  every little detail matters immensely.  Things that don't matter in a benign, short life consumer environment can quickly turn into nasty problems.  I can also show you some gold plated circuit boards out of some HP test equipment that failed because of the problem.

"HP" test equipment?  I forgot - how long ago did HP Spin-Off the Agilent Line?  20 years?  These problems are no longer problems.  I have boards for military and aero-space companies (Boeing, Gulfstream, Bendix, Garmin, Marvin Land, General Dynamics, General Electric, etc) with ENIG all over them.  It's been worked out, and it's now a trusted finish.  Do some military branches still demand HASL - of course they do, they have no reason to change.  Once they have a reason (they need 0402/0201 tech, they need fine-pitch BGA tech, etc), they'll investigate and then approve ENIG.

Here's another study by NASA-DOD.

https://tdksc.ksc.nasa.gov/servlet/dm.web.Fetch/TEERM_WoodrowMechanicalShockPresentation.pdf?gid=103123

It was really to investivate the usefullness of Lead-Free solders, but all the tests were done on ENIG and Immersion-Silver boards.  These things were subjected to crash-scenario G-Forces.  Every component survived a minimum of 33 events, and smaller components never failed.

Lead-Free solder is way more of a concern than ENIG boards will ever be.

PPtk

 

Edit: Agilent Spun Off in 1999.  "HP" test equipment is at minimum 13 years old.

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PilotPTK
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One of our Military customers uses these Honeywell HT Parts.  They are an 8051 microcontroller that can survive 300C operating environments.  Yes, that's 572 degrees F.  Hot.  

http://www.honeywell.com/sites/servlet/com.merx.npoint.servlets.DocumentServlet?docid=D8EEF27C2-75FB-1DA9-5B52-EA5848921D74

They're about 800 dollars each (the standard 8051 that they emulate is about 5 bucks).

Guess what their leads are plated with?  Yep.. Gold.

PPtk

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PilotPTK
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Thought everyone might like to see what the 3-XML Module can actually do.  This is a short video comparing it to a solarforce L2P with Manafont Ultrafire 3-Mode Dropin.

This particular module is populated with Cool-White T6 emitters.

http://youtu.be/um1jT35TE1w

PPtk

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Shadowww
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Would this only work with Cree XM-L's, or boards with Nichia NVSL219AT-H1 4500K, 92 CRI LED's (obviously limited to 1.5A driving current) would be possible to order as well?

PilotPTK
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Shadowww wrote:

Would this only work with Cree XM-L's, or boards with Nichia NVSL219AT-H1 4500K, 92 CRI LED's (obviously limited to 1.5A driving current) would be possible to order as well?

Unfortunately, that Nichia LED is physically quite a bit smaller than an XM-L (3.5mm square vs. 5.0mm square), so it will not fit on the board.  There is, however, no reason at all that this board couldn't be adapted to accept that emitter, and if there is demand, I'm happy to oblige.

PPtk

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PilotPTK wrote:

"HP" test equipment?  I forgot - how long ago did HP Spin-Off the Agilent Line?  20 years?  These problems are no longer problems.

Agilent will always be HP to me...

Old test equipment never dies,  it just gets passed on to the lower schmucks.  Actually, a lot of it is irreplaceable even today.  I have some 50 year old equipment that no commercial equipment available today can even remotely touch.  An old HP5370 freq counter can be had for $100.  It can measure a single-shot pulse width down to 20 ps...  ever price a new unit that can do that?  The HP3458A meter has been in continuous production for over 25 years.  Nothing has ever improved on it (or probably ever will... it operates at the limits of what silicon technology can achieve)

My electronics lab has over $1 million retail of equipment that cost me under $30,000 because some other idiot just had to have the latest and greatest gizmo,  ignoring the fact that the old stuff had better specs and was actually serviceable and had full service manuals available.  If I need a piece of equipment,  I can almost always buy it off of Ebay for less than I can rent it for a month.

HP used to plate everything with heavy gold.  That did give a lot higher chance of just the right amount of gold dissolving in the solder to cause problems.  The light flashing of gold on today's boards probably does reduce the chance of issues.   In one group of HP equipment that had joint problems,  the most problematic joints were those in areas that were exposed to the most airflow from the fan.  Perhaps an interaction with something in the environment or lower temperatures accelerated the problems?

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texaspyro wrote:

PilotPTK wrote:

"HP" test equipment?  I forgot - how long ago did HP Spin-Off the Agilent Line?  20 years?  These problems are no longer problems.

Agilent will always be HP to me...

Old test equipment never dies,  it just gets passed on to the lower schmucks.  Actually, a lot of it is irreplaceable even today.  I have some 50 year old equipment that no commercial equipment available today can even remotely touch.  An old HP5370 freq counter can be had for $100.  It can measure a single-shot pulse width down to 20 ps...  ever price a new unit that can do that?  The HP3458A meter has been in continuous production for over 25 years.  Nothing has ever improved on it (or probably ever will... it operates at the limits of what silicon technology can achieve)

My electronics lab has over $1 million retail of equipment that cost me under $30,000 because some other idiot just had to have the latest and greatest gizmo,  ignoring the fact that the old stuff had better specs and was actually serviceable and had full service manuals available.  If I need a piece of equipment,  I can almost always buy it off of Ebay for less than I can rent it for a month.

HP used to plate everything with heavy gold.  That did give a lot higher chance of just the right amount of gold dissolving in the solder to cause problems.  The light flashing of gold on today's boards probably does reduce the chance of issues.   In one group of HP equipment that had joint problems,  the most problematic joints were those in areas that were exposed to the most airflow from the fan.  Perhaps an interaction with something in the environment or lower temperatures accelerated the problems?

I still have tons of "HP" Test equipment, and I totally agree with you - it will always be HP to me.  Hell, even my desk calculator is an "HP".  The heavy gold may absolutely have contributed - most studies have found anything more than about 3% total gold content in the joint can start to cause issues.  Today's micro-inch thick plating, however, maintains a total gold content of far less than 1%.  Phosphorous from the Nickel must also be maintained in a pretty thin margin, but again, it's been handled. 

Lower temperatures causing the issue seems strange to me, but anything is possible.  Perhaps it's actually that the problematic parts (HOT) were purposely placed in the flow of the fan - and these "HOT" parts accelerate the problem..  Chicken/Egg thing..  Did the fan cause the issue, or did that parts that needed the fan have the issue..

PPtk

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PilotPTK wrote:

mattthemuppet wrote:

looking great Pilot, can't wait to see these in action.

About the programming - can the controller chips be supplied programmed off the board for self-assemblers or can they only be programmed after assembly using the pads on the board?

I can supply them pre-programmed.  It will be a no-cost option.

PPtk

 

cool! That'll make things much simpler (ish) Smile

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Hi PPTK,

Do you plan to have this also installed in a custom alu host to be used as secondary offroad light, same as your other much bigger light bar?

It would be interesting to know if you have this plan, as this setup looks promising for car use, but I don't have the tools to make a host for it...

What about a compact, finned billet alu spotlight, with easy bolt-in mount capability (two threaded holes on the bottom are ok), lexan stone-proof front lense, waterproof.

Asking too much?

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I don't know about others but I have a little temp controlled soldering station that I may or may not be able to use with the required skill - and a video would give me an excellent idea as to how to do it - and whether I might be able to.  I would LOVE to see a how-to video!

KumaBear

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How did I miss this post?  This looks fantastic!  Excellent video comparison and pics.

Time to start making that custom host...

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Match wrote:

How did I miss this post?  This looks fantastic!  Excellent video comparison and pics.

Time to start making that custom host...

You were too busy trying to melt an XM-L on top of a block of copper and aluminum - that's how Smile

I actually wish the video portrayed it better - it's pretty darn awesome in person.  I love the CUTE-3 Optics, beautiful spot and then suddenly it's spill and your eye can't really decide where it transformed from one to the other.  Very natural looking beam.

And custom hosts for this thing are easy - 35mm diameter by 16mm tall space to put them in and one screw hole and you're done.  No secondary driver to worry about.

Thanks again for the contest prize - that was a really cool offering.

PPtk

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PilotPTK
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Rockspider wrote:

Hi PPTK,

Do you plan to have this also installed in a custom alu host to be used as secondary offroad light, same as your other much bigger light bar?

It would be interesting to know if you have this plan, as this setup looks promising for car use, but I don't have the tools to make a host for it...

What about a compact, finned billet alu spotlight, with easy bolt-in mount capability (two threaded holes on the bottom are ok), lexan stone-proof front lense, waterproof.

Asking too much?

I'm not big on spoilers regarding future activities, but I will say.. Anything is possible Smile

PPtk

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PilotPTK
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KumaBear wrote:

I don't know about others but I have a little temp controlled soldering station that I may or may not be able to use with the required skill - and a video would give me an excellent idea as to how to do it - and whether I might be able to.  I would LOVE to see a how-to video!

A video of me soldering up a module is definately on the to-do list.. Unfortunately, so are a lot of other things.  These 24 hour days.. Who thought them up?

It'll come - i just can't promise when.

PPtk

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PilotPTK
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A big day.. The first professionally assembled modules are done.  Here are some pictures of the assembly.

 

Test Panel, 4 Modules Populated (Just in case something went very wrong - luckily, it didn't.)
Machine Modules 

Close-Up view of one module:
MachineClose 

Module with TIR optic in place:
TIRMachine 

 

Additionally, I know how some people really like their LOW low's, so here are two photos of the module running at minimum brightness.  Input voltage (battery voltage) has nothing to do with this.  In fact, I'm supplying the module with 18V in these pictures.

VeryLow

And to get a much better idea of just how LOW that really is..
LessThanLumen 

Yes, those really are the indicator lights on my keyboard for NUMLUCK and CAPS Lock and the charging LED on my Cell phone.  When I say LOW, I mean LOW.

Module sales are just around the corner now - I've just got to finish up the software.

PPtk

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texaspyro
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Sweeeet...

PilotPTK
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mattthemuppet
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great job, you must feel pretty pleased with yourself!

PilotPTK
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mattthemuppet wrote:

great job, you must feel pretty pleased with yourself!

Thanks Matt.  Of course, there is always a bit of pride taken when a design comes to an end and a product is born - This isn't exactly the first of those for me though, so it's a little dulled Smile

I am definitely happy with how it performs.  It's a really cool little module.

PPtk

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PilotPTK wrote:
- This isn't exactly the first of those for me though, so it's a little dulled Smile

 

true, true. I'm usually happy when whatever I make just turns on! That's the scariest moment for me.

 

PilotPTK wrote:

I am definitely happy with how it performs.  It's a really cool little module.

 

I don't think you'll find anyone on here that would disagree with you Big Smile

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Yep I cant wait to get mine. Mine is going to go into a 3d mag running off of 3 18650s. Smile

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