Old-Lumens contest rules discussion

I have considered a poll and will probably do it at a later date. Your suggested titles are a great starting point.

Thanks MtnDon. I appreciate the comment even if there’s no strong opinion one way or the other.

The way i read your comment is you weren’t comfortable enough to enter until you bought a lathe. I’m sure there are others that feel the same. If we could convince these types to enter without the heavy tools and machinery then that’d be great. Up until last year’s contest there was only 2 categories - hand made and machine made. Either way you pretty much needed to be good with your hands, have the space to work and access to the tools you need etc… On top of that you needed the motivation to do such a thing and then the willingness to present the workings to the forum. Last year CRX had the brilliant idea of introducing the modified category. To enter that category you didn’t ‘need’ a whole lot of tools and expertise. So in theory - if the tools and expertise was the restricting factor then this category should have had the largest pool of entries. The number of finished lights in that category however were much the same as the first two categories. Overall we did have some of the largest numbers in last years competition but not excessively large. So I don’t think the tooling and expertise issue is the problem. When you look around at the build threads and other additional threads pertaining to the OL comp (such as this one) you might notice the vast majority of comments are by the contestants. A relatively low number of non-contestants make comments in any of the threads. This says to me that the average enthusiast is not interested and we are a niche group within a niche group. As much as i love BLF it seems like this platform is probably not the best since the majority of members don’t seem interested. I’m not suggesting to move the comp elsewhere or anything like that, just making observations.


Well, I don’t think a lathe is needed, but it makes certain things easier for sure. Don’t forget there are levels of skill on all tools, and though I can use a lathe, I cannot use it to anywhere near the level of some on here. partly to do with my very old antique lathe (but I love it)
I’ve never entered before partly due to the same reasons you raise, but you know, once I started doing it I forgot all that and just enjoyed it.
I enjoyed it so much I’m sad I’ve just finished mine (pics coming) but I am going to make some more, maybe to sell.

Consider allowing the outsourcing of coatings (anodize, gold plate, nickel plate, powder coat, etc.) in the “machine made” category, or if nothing else: aluminum anodization. Machine shops typically outsource these processes.

Another consideration would be whether or not unfinished entries from previous years can be resumed as entries in the latest competition.

“All machine shop tools are allowed, such as: Lathe, End Mill, Programmed Automated machines, Standard 3D Printers”

“End Mill” should be “milling machine.”

No , the lathe just let me do machine made . I’m much more comfortable with hand made . My point was that I was apprehensive from a lack of skill and lack of fully understanding the components compared to the levels of others . I don’t doubt there are others feeling the same .

Why compare yourself to others? Every self help guru/predator in existence advises not to do that, because there’s always someone younger or richer or more skilled or prettier or whatever, so you’ll just never end up doing anything if you do that. And, this is no longer a “contest,” it’s a “challenge.” A challenge to build something. Anything. And there are usually more prizes than entrants, which is a plus.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that people aren’t interested. Take a peek at the right-hand column here. I just picked a random thread from this year, and last year’s main contest thread:

That said, the participation is lower than I’m sure we’d all like to see. But I think that kind of goes hand-in-hand with those participating in the contest itself: We’re more probably more likely to participate in general, whether in the contest or the contest threads/discussion. There’s probably other factors involved as well; if you look around the forum there’s definite trends about things. Some members are much more active/participatory in general. Some may feel they don’t have anything to contribute if they aren’t participants (though I cannot stress enough how much that is not the case), or that there’s no way they could have a better idea than the legendary CRX about something (again - not only wrong, but I know for a fact CRX wants to hear what people think!). I myself have felt similarly in the past, and it’s not because anyone here is really doing anything wrong.

As far as the platform, I agree that we do represent a niche within a niche. However, BLF is not just one of the only places where something like this could happen, IMO it is the best of those few places for it to happen. This thread itself is proof that we care about the contest, we care about making it accessible, and we continue to encourage people to participate in whatever ways we can.

That’s some interesting comment. I’m curious to know about the views counted. Is that counting each individual view? i.e. MtnDon’s thread has 3138 views. Is that 3138 individuals or roughly 300 people looking at it 10 times each? Out of all those views only 4% have made a reply (134/3138=0.043).

In regard to the platform I don’t think the challenge would ever leave BLF , and I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it. I think it was more the fact that making, creating, crafting and producing something is only a small aspect of this hobby.

It’s safe to say CRX is in the same boat as us and he’d love to see more participation. It might be an idea to not put him on a pedestal though.

I think this thread has been somewhat productive. If nothing else it’s a bit clearer in my own head. At a later date i’ll open a pole to see if we keep or change the current format. If a new format is adopted i’m guessing most of the regulars will likely enter no matter what the format is. After participating in this challenge I personally find the rules, prizes etc… secondary to actually participating. Once I realised I didn’t have to make the brightest , most technical , newest/freshest idea it became much easier and much more fun. All i had to do was produce a light and show my build.

If we allow outsourcing i think YuvalS ‘s approach of minimal rules should be adopted. Outsourcing for one category only is not a good fit e.g. why not let modified category do some anodising? It also opens the discussion again about outsourcing- exactly what type of outsourcing is acceptable. I think a very small change to the rules like allowing outsourcing of anodising to machine made will have a negligible effect on numbers entering the challenge. Also good point about calling it a ’challenge’ , I should adopt that word instead of contest/competition because it gives off the wrong vibe.

I don’t think we should eat that one


Some thoughts.

I do not often comment in OL competition build threads, I even do not take the time to have a look at them for weeks, but I appreciate the competition a lot and at least I feel guilty not following all the build threads as closely as they deserve.

What I mean is that the OL competition is one of the things that make BLF special (I think, I’m not aware of what happens in other hobby forums) and it should stay if possible, and a discussion about how to upgrade the rules to make the competition more accessable is a good idea.

The modified lights category is a nice new addition I think, even if it does not attract the loads of entrances that were hoped for. It does make entering possible for people without extensive workshops, like me (two square meters behind the cupboard).

Btw, I like build threads of lights that are not revolutionary or are even clumpsy very much, every modder, sophisticated or not, has been there and will recognise himself (herself?) in those threads :slight_smile: . I hope people with limited skills continu to enter the competition.

This year I entered the competition with a build that I would have also done without the competition, but the competion did cause that I finally started it (could have been another two years without the pressure of a competition), and the competition caused that I went the extra mile documenting the build well, and that I added more features and did more finishing touches.

What I was not prepared to do is squeezing my build into the rules of the handbuild category, in which case I would have to handbuild parts that would turn out uglier and less practical than using a few parts of an existing light that was spare and at hand. I simply wanted to build it the best way I could. Maybe I should not have entered the competition for that reason, but the competition did give me that extra motivation to make it better and show it in a thread. This is not to suggest any rule changes, it is just how it worked for me.

I think that’s great. I’m glad you entered, too.

I think what you said kind of highlights a few things. There’s definitely a difference in effort and problem-solving between entering the hand-build vs the modified category. While I have every confidence you could have improvised something to fit the rules for the hand-made category, it may not be worth it to every person for every build. I know I have a part sitting in my box, it’s a copper spacer for a convoy pill made by kiriba-ru, and it would almost certainly fit perfectly into the head of my build and completely eliminate some fitment problems I’m having. Instead I’m probably going to be soldering together an ugly lump of brass washers to make my own spacer. Technically, the light will end up slightly inferior for it, and my efforts on the build are tremendously increased (as well, I have to go spend a little more money!). But at the same time, this is probably not a build I’d have attempted without the OL Challenge, and I decided in advance that I wanted to commit to the hand-build category if I possibly could.

I think that distinction, the extra effort to solve the really annoying problems while staying within the hand-build category, really set it apart from the modified light category. Otherwise, there are definitely “modified” builds this year that surpass the expertise/skill involved in my “hand-build”, and that’s okay.

I made a few clarifications this year regarding the contest rules, but I think that these changes help to clear up some problems with the rules as they’ve always been written.

I made it clear that the “Modified Light” category is basically a free for all:

  • “If your build breaks the rules of the other categories, you may enter it in this category.”

You can use any host or components, outsource as much as you like, etc., it’s just that your entry will fall into this category.

Osh Park as an outside service has always been a bit of a snag, with people asking questions about it, mostly because it was never explicitly stated whether it is allowed or not.

I have added clarification to the rules:

  • You may use any PCB whether you designed it or not, and you may acquire it from Osh Park or elsewhere.

Ordering driver PCBs (and presumably “contact boards”) from Osh park has always been allowed regardless of who designed the board. Some years have omitted “contact board” from the list of specifically mentioned allowable components, but prefabricated switch boards were never not allowed, and that is a contact board.

Justin allowed “driver / contact boards,” even in the hand made category in the first contest.
The bit about “contact boards” has always seemed a little ambiguous to me because of the fact that battery carriers are made from contact boards, such as this one. As far as I have seen in the previous contests, no one has ever used a battery carrier “contact board” like that in a build. Everyone has always etched or cut their own PCB traces in copperclad G10, or used other materials to make one from scratch. But a battery carrier contact board is a contact board.

Making a battery carrier using contact boards from Osh Park is not exactly the same as buying or using a ready made flashlight battery carrier, although it’s not the same as building one entirely from scratch either.

The contest rules have never specifically said that pre-made flashlight specific battery carriers are not allowed, but again, no one has ever used one of these. Many entries have used power tool packs, lipo packs, and the flat style battery holders / carriers that you can buy from digi-key and such. These are not flashlight specific parts though, they are being adapted for flashlight use, which is a distinction. But, because of the ease of implementation of a lipo pack —you just plug the thing in, a pre-made flashlight battery carrier isn’t much different in this regard.

I did not add “battery carrier” to the list of prohibited flashlight parts, mostly because I didn’t want to add confusion about whether or not battery carriers were disallowed generally, but I did not add it to the list of allowed components either. If someone asks about using a pre-assembled flashlight battery carrier I would say to try to make it from scratch, or otherwise get the PCBs from Osh Park and assemble the thing at least.

In any case, in regards to taking the easy route, the judges could simply give due credit when someone etches a PCB themselves or otherwise does anything from scratch instead of using an option which is allowed by the rules but much easier to accomplish than the more DIY alternative. This principle could extend all the way to the “no outside services allowed” rule, with that rule being changed to “try not to outsource anything. Credit is given where credit is due.” But, instead of fundamentally changing that rule, I made it clear that “anything goes” in the “Modified Light” category!

As for my hang-ups regarding the categories: drills, drill presses, and rotary tools are allowed in the “hand made” category. The issue here is that a drill press can easily be used as a lathe and a milling machine. Not a very good one, but it can do it. I have not however seen any entries which particularly exploited this fact. If an entry were largely made using a drill press, I would be inclined to say that it should be in the machine made category. The rules don’t reflect this however.

If the “hand made” rules said “you may not use a drill press with an X,Y table / vise in order to use it as a milling machine” that would clear that up, but a hand drill can easily be used as a lathe, as can a drill press or rotary tool, and this is often done for polishing and grinding and filing work on small cylindrical parts and pins, and if you can use these tools as a lathe, why can’t you use them as a milling machine?

To account for all of that, without disallowing any of it, I have titled the contest categories:

  • Hand Made (Basic Tools)
  • Machine Made (Advanced Tools)
  • Modified Light (Anything Goes)

Yea, you can use your hand drill as a lathe or your drill press as a milling machine in the “Hand Made” category. Those are basic tools, you see.
The “Modified Light” category means modified lights, but it also means modified rules. Anything goes.

So with those changes I no longer have any major hangups with the rules.

Maybe a line about “ready-made battery carriers like those sold for the BLF GT and other lights are not allowed. Make it from scratch or at least acquire the PCBs from Osh Park or elsewhere and assemble it” should be added for clarity.

Sounds good, Hoop. I like the clarifications before things really kick off. :+1:

It all sounds reasonable to me.

Love the rules updates. Clarification is always good!
I strongly suspect I’ll be in hand made this year, but there’s a chance of “modified light” if things get bad hahaha

If it is not to late (since the challenge is officially started) maybe we can add a cross-category "new participant" prize which will be save for people who participate the challenge for the first time in order to encourage new members to try join the challenge?

Best build by new participant can be chosen by vote or by judges.

What do you say?

Nice clarifications, well-thought-out and reasonable. :+1:

Excellent job, Hoop!