JA7 Scratch Build (Update 15th July)

Hi all, I have finally made a start on my scratch head hand build, better late than never. After a bit of pondering and considering what tools I have on hand, I decided to take an old-school approach.
I’m going low tech, a hammer and a bit of copper tube for the most part. I have managed to get a hold of some 99.95% copper tube, in 1, 2, and 3 mil wall thicknesses so that should allow me a bit of volume to bash the hell out of.
Ideally what I would like to finish up with is a pocket-able light that runs on 14500 18500 and 18650, actually that’s not ideal. It would be awesome if I could run AA’s alkaline and nimh but the driver I have will not allow that. I know very little about this driver (RNX-2.8a) and searching online has brought no joy. What I do know from some testing is it has a very nice moonlight mode plus another three useable levels and a hidden strobe also works off an electronic switch. Max output is supposed to be 2.8a my suspect multi-meter reads 2.6a Xml-t6, 2.2a Xml2-t6 and 1.8a Xpg2-R5. I have read that Xml2 has a higher vf so seems believable but I was surprised at the Xpg2-R5 only drawing 1.8a. The reflector I will be using at this stage will be a cut down P60 and 99% sure I will go Xml2 for flood.

I started by cutting a bit of25 x 2mm tube at about 80mm with my pipe cutter. Annealed it on the gas stove to make it workable and the assault began.

After repeated trips back n forth between the gas stove and my workbench, things started to take shape. I had already worked out what dimensions I needed to achieve in order to tap threads. The heat-sink / pill area needed to be sized up to 23mm for a 24 x 1 thread tap as well as the bezel but I’m planning on an insert before the bezel so 25-26mm. the battery tube I will reduce down as much as possible but will be tapping a 22mm thread for the tail cap and extensions? If extension. I may just go with an alternate tail cap for 18650’s not sure yet I’m wanting to make the thing submersible so the less joints I have the better my chances, although the idea of having to carry around an extra tail cap is off putting.

The flat area i had beaten down for the location of the switch seemed to evolve into a kind of boat shape, it wasn’t intentional but i liked what was happening there so i went with it.
This bottom area i have left a ridge and drawn the rest down for the tail cap threads, needs to be 22mm. I will get it close enough then touch it up with a file or dremel once mounted to my hand drill.

The pill, I started with a bit of 6mm copper plate, gently attacking it with a 30mm hole saw to cut out the top of my heat-sink. Yes the downside to these things is they leave a dirty great hole in the center of the material but I have a cunning plan.

It just so happens I happen to have some fine silver lying around 99.99% pure. The plan is to make a solid silver rivet, cut the center out of an Xml2 star and re-solder the emitter directly to the silver. This is a variation of a Mod I read about here on BLF with the exception of the silver and the rivet, cos it’s the Budget Light Forum. I really do not expect there to be any noticeable difference between a pure copper or silver rivet but it’s kind of cool. After all the led will only be run at 2.2a on high, hopefully someone works out how to do a resistor mod or something. Someone…. Please somebody!

The idea is to take that little piece of silver and forge it into a cylindrical shape to fit the center hole of my copper cut out.
The Xml star i will have to do again because i have cut away the mask layer but it will work as a reference for now.

After repeated finger strikes and sometimes hitting the silver i have managed to come up with something close to what i want.

With my fingers trembling at the thought of more hammering i am almost there.

One last anneal. looking like a silver bullet here.
Dragging it through the draw plate a few times to get the right size.

Good enough for me, just need to trim to size.

Now that i have a nice snug fit, the plan is to hammer it from both sides to splay the ends out to form a rivet.

It really didn’t take much hammering to get the effect i was wanting. I placed the pre-cut led star on top and marked it out with a black pen.
Cut and filed to the size i was wanting.

A bit of a clean up with some finer sand paper and nail buffer.

Time for soldering, i managed to find a copper pipe connector almost the right size and will be silver soldering them together.
This is not your regular lead based solder, this stuff flows at 570 degrees Celsius, usually used for jewellery.

Its warm, i also put a dab of solder on the under side of my silver rivet just to be sure.

Love those colors.

Cutting the thread. I bought this die stock online and who ever the turkey was that drilled the holes for the handles, must have been drunk or cross eyed.
Did not do me any favors.

Turned out really well. just need to cut to fit the driver and i can call it done.

Drilled my holes in the top and cleaned it up a little. ooh shiny!
So this is about where I’m at, i have been doing some experiments with silicon for my switch. I am thinking of encapsulating it in silicon, that’s the purple stuff in the background but another day.

Time to fry up an Xml star and re-cut, this time i will be sure to avoid cutting the mask.

The downside to this is i will have to reshape my nice shiny pill to fit.

Good enough, time to fit.

Messed up the pill a bit but its a nice snug fit, mask intact. I can stop holding my breath now.

All shiny again and good to go.

I gave the back of the star a bit of a touch up as well.

Time to prepare the pill for the driver. Marked the depth of the driver for a cut guide.

Using the rotary tool to remove some material and try not to burn my foot. This thing has a foot pedal that gets HOT! I can last about 2min in bare feet or five in shoes before it melts them.

Thats all it needed.

Yes i know its upside down.
Getting Back to the torch body, sorry to all those who liked the coloring of the body but it has to be annealed before i can tidy up the tail section.

A bit of a cleaner line at the tail end, ready to be mounted on the drill to clean it up and cut grooves for the o-rings.

File attack.

Ready for a 22mm thread but before i do that i will cut the 24mm for the pill.

I did say i was going low tech. This is my useless solution to stop the body from slipping as i cut the threads. Doesn’t work! Time for another deep breath.

Just checking for alignment.

Im happy with the way things have turned out so here i have the pill and driver in the body. i have already drilled a small hole through the body where i want the switch to be and marking the pill through the body.

The switch. I have wasted so much time on this side switch housing. After many evenings carving bits of wax and molding polymer clay I came up with this.

The idea is to do a Lost wax casting in sterling, its kind of a one shot deal. It took me so long to carve this so it better work out.

A good use for a chipped aspheric lens, was previously in my Sipik sk-68 @ 40k lux.

Investment poured (its only investment if it pays off)

The area at the top acts as a crucible for smelting, saves trying to hold the torch and pour liquid metal with a pair of pliers.
Tomorrow will be Tail cap and bezel then i will try and cast my switch. oh dear.

After breaking the handle on my favorite hammer, i thought i may as well get into doing that cast.

On lowest heat, trying to melt the wax out.

Action shot things starting to happen.

Out of the frying pan into the fire. The deal is to raise the temp in stages so as not to shock the investment into cracking. Usually would be done in a kiln.

Not so sure this is supposed to happen but it is called burn out?

As you can see i have some nice big cracks but i have spent too much time on this to stop here. How bad could it be? Did cracks stop Neil Armstrong? no.

Here is my low tech setup. Propane torch, ceramic tile and some mud, all located at the kitchen sink for safety reasons. The process is to smelt your metal in the mold and when it gets to flow temperature take the pottle of mud/fire clay? and force it down over the top of the molten metal. This causes the moisture in the clay to instantly turn to steam, creating pressure that forces the metal into the mold. i have done this maybe 50 to 60 times before with great success but i usually dont make my own molds, for obvious reasons.

Here you can see the silver starting to bead, its taken probably 5 minutes. A bit more and i will be forcing the clay over the top, at least thats what i was expecting but i guess you dont always get what you want. To my horror! my silver disappeared into the flask. Well thats never happened before. I think the cracks allowed air to be displaced which allowed the metal to flow. i was a little perplexed so when in doubt keep the heat on. I basted it for another minute or so and forced the clay pot over it anyway to bring me a sense of closure. I really was not sure what to expect.

Surprisingly the cast was complete? There was a lot of clean up to do but with my wall thickness I should be able to file all that back to smooth surfaces.

Time to reflow the Xml2, got to cook it just right.

Will give it a test using an 18500

Low tech

My multi meter is so low tech i think its sleeping? this is moonlight mode. Shhh

Second mode.



5th, this is high. The Xml2 is being driven by a 18500 Sanyo. There is also a hidden strobe, as far as i can tell this driver always comes on in moonlight.

The tail cap. I am using silver solder so it has to get very hot but its very strong. Unfortunately it does not fill gaps so you have to be a lot more careful with your fit. If I do have any gaps i will fill them with a little stay-bright.
I have worked out that you an have more than one photo per post so i will spread them a bit wider and spare your scroll fingers.

The switch housing, so last time you seen the switch it looked like this Well things have progressed from there but first i need to make a top for it. I thought about casting one at the same time as the housing but decided to do something a little different. After a bit of rummaging around I found a very nice piece of Australian black jade that i had been keeping. I melted some wax into the top of the switch housing to replicate the shape and size that i would be cutting the jade to. Time to give my hot foot a rest and on with the diamond file.
Here is the housing that i have aged through various means, It reminds me of ancient markings on the inside of a cave wall. The jade fits well enough but i am a little worried about my next step.
My plan was to make a square black jade button that goes through the jade top but I need to be really precise and I’m running out of time. Surprisingly my wife came up with an idea that would be a lot easier and save me some time, even if it was spoken in sarcasm. I will be setting a stone in the top, a red sapphire.

Making some features out of sterling wire.

There will be three of these features base, above tail cap and below bezel.
Soldering features and housing.

Back to the pond to see if it floats? well it looks a little submarine ish any way. final fitting for jade.

Just realized with only hours… hours to go, i don’t have a glass that fits because i cut my p60 reflector down so much. luckily I found some doping wax while looking for other things so a makeshift mandrel, melt the wax to join the too together and turn it down in the bucket with a diamond tool. Try not to drop the drill in the bucket of water and all is well.

The bezel is another piece of copper. I have tried to keep this piece as red as possible, to match my sapphire switch.

At this point i have the light complete. I have installed the pill, wired the momentary electronic switch, encapsulated it in silicon so moisture will not be an issue.
Final thoughts, switch works perfectly, it has very little movement and is firm. I’m not sure if i mentioned it but i put a very strong magnet at the end of the tail cap, not sure i like it. i keep sticking to stuff. Pretty much all the materials i used to make this light i already had apart from the copper tube. I will probably make my square button switch in jade( its more me) well this has been a blast, If I did it again I would change a Lot of things. I have a lot of new ideas so I think I will be making a few more lights in the near future. Thanks OL thanks to all. I’m off to play with my new toy.

Time to play with some patinas.

Beam shots to follow.
Inside first. Here is the line up for ceiling bounce, standard Sipik sk-68 14500, my light and resistor modded SkyRay King.

My light

Out the window, from the eighth floor, so maybe 40-50 meters?
Control shot
my light

Where’d you get the driver?

Is it this driver:


which links to this driver:


but with more 7135s to give you 2.8 amps?

I would suggest that the reason for the lower results would be due to the voltage of the battery not meeting the voltage requirements to produce the higher amps.

For an XM-L2 my minimum any more is four NiMH with a linear driver or 2 Li-ion with a buck driver.

Glad to see you getting some time to do your build. The more the merrier and I'm a sucker for Copper.Wink

Subscribed, looking forward to it!

No that’s not it.as far as i can see there are no 7135’s , there will be a picture up now. its got a big torrid on top.
i do like the driver, its got some really nice modes and electronic switch. Just wish i could run it at 3.5a

Wow! Amazing work, and silver in the pill. Nice!

Wow! I never knew Fred Flintstone was a flashaholic. This is Sooo different and really cool.

Nice and original JA7. The texture on your light will give better traction than knurling. You certainly have an interesting array off tools.


That is a friggin Awseome finish! The Chinese will be copying that finish in about a month! Seriously, it's totally different and I could see some lights being done by that.

Thanks guys for the positive feedback. I was telling the wife but I kind of lost her when I mentioned silver. “In your torch” she said. She just didn’t get it, I’m glad I kept my other ideas quiet. Now diamond! has the best thermal properties and I just happen to have a couple lying around. She’s lucky silver has superior thermal qualities to gold. I won’t be telling her I plan on casting the switch housing in sterling silver. Don’t get me wrong, I would much prefer to cast it in copper but I can’t get it hot enough with my propane torch, sterling I can, and I just happen to have some lying around. Maybe I could tell her its stainless steel? Or hide it but it’s just not right, when a husband has to hide his flashlight from his wife.

tell her its a melted down nickel or lead sinkers

Great build, can’t wait to see it finished.

Really awesome finish on that! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product. 8)

Yep, the truth is best. She already knows you are certifiably crazy anyhow. Wives know, they just don't always let us know that they know.Wink

That pill is AWESOME! Can't wait to see this one finished

This light shows the difference between an artist and a mechanic. I could not have even imagined this.

Indeed! The creative part of my mind is just shrugging and saying things like “Don’t expect things like that from me, buddy!”. :wink:
Great creative work, great mechanical work, I like it very much! :slight_smile:

This is a very different look - I like it a lot!

It will be finished this w/end, no?? :cowboy_hat_face:

JA7, About a year ago I needed that finish on a light for a customer. I spent 2 days with a Wacom tablet, $10K worth of software, lots of $$ in machines and about 4 hours if I recall of machining with tiny ball end mills.... and.... and.... well, I like yours better!!!

That hammered, worn is finish is beautiful! Nicely done sir!


Thanks for the awesome encouragement guys. I really didn’t know how this would be received, I’m really surprised. I have been making progress but found the side switch housing to be a stumbling block. Its not the mechanics of it, its more the shape I’m struggling with. Spent few hours carving bits of wax and doing mock ups with clay. I’m looking for a nice strong contrast against the forged texture. As far as a finish goes, I still have a lot to do. Need to finish any touch ups on the body shape before i can tap my threads, sort the switch out, drill through the body and pill, re-cut an Xml star to fit my pill, make 18650 extension and then there is the bezel as well as a couple of patinas for colour, so a few late nights i think. Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement. Will update some pics tomorrow.