Author Topic: Where to start?  (Read 10496 times)

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Offline Michael

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Where to start?
« on: December 23, 2014, 01:15:44 AM »
Hey guys!

So, I've been bitten by the flashaholic bug and as I'm working on expanding my collection and checking out cool stuff I've decided I want to build my own flashlight. I love the idea of having a completely one-of-a-kind light that I made myself, and it would be great to help me learn more about modding and how lights work.

That said, I have no idea where to start. Should I get a drop in, or a separate driver and LED? Which drivers are good? Where should I get the LED? How the heck do I make the bloody thing work? All of these are questions that need answered before I can even consider building a light.

So my question is, do you guys know of any websites or resources for someone like me to just read up and figure this stuff out without annoying you all with a million questions? I have a lot to learn, but it'll be totally worth it and I'm committed. Especially after seeing the Steam Pipe light on here, wow that thing is awesome and I'd never be able to make something that incredible but it got me motivated :) I know this forum is a good place to ask for help, but I just really don't want to be "that guy" annoying everyone with tons of questions when I'm sure the answers are out there, I just haven't been able to find them yet.

Thanks in advance for your help :)

Offline MRsDNF

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 04:24:13 AM »
I cant specifically answer your question but I started of with a P60 reflector kit, host, 7135 based driver and XPG-2 led and then went to a couple of AA hosts to build into lights and it just kept evolving. If you search through here you should find lots of useful info.

http://theflashlightforum.com/index.php/board,13.0.html
When the big picture is to big, look for a point you can start at and build from there.

Offline Michael

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2014, 07:06:50 PM »
Thanks for the help :) I'll probably do like you did and start with a host and maybe a drop in for my first one, then get more technical as I go along.

Offline JohnnyMac

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2014, 03:57:53 AM »
Thanks for the help :) I'll probably do like you did and start with a host and maybe a drop in for my first one, then get more technical as I go along.
That's the best way to start out, Michael. ;)

Offline IN caver

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2014, 04:59:01 PM »
Here's a good place to check out. Good hosts, drivers, LEDs. Just about everything you might need to throw together your first light and I've always had great service.
http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index.php?route=common/home

Offline JohnnyMac

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2014, 07:53:48 PM »
Here's a good place to check out. Good hosts, drivers, LEDs. Just about everything you might need to throw together your first light and I've always had great service.
http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index.php?route=common/home
Ditto on mtnelectronics.com!  Richard has everything you need to build a killer light.

Offline jmpaul320

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2014, 11:27:56 PM »
Here's a good place to check out. Good hosts, drivers, LEDs. Just about everything you might need to throw together your first light and I've always had great service.
http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index.php?route=common/home
Ditto on mtnelectronics.com!  Richard has everything you need to build a killer light.

agreed!

He is also quite skilled at building custom lights and is very knowledgeable when it comes to everything electronics if you need additional advice/tech help.

Offline Michael

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2014, 02:09:19 AM »
Thanks for all the info guys :)

I'll check that site out. One day I'll find a home for all this copper tubing in a custom light,  but for now I suppose the host + drop in would be plenty to start. I tend to want to jump in headfirst and start with the hard stuff, but I think on something like this it would be best to start out small.

Just curious, do the hosts usually need a reflector and lens and stuff, or do you basically just drop the LED in and it's good to go? The kind of reflector and lens matters a lot to me since I like lights with a nice even beam and no hot spots.

Offline Michael

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2014, 07:40:20 AM »
Alrighty, so I'm starting to get an idea of what I want to use and how to go about putting it all together, and I've got a couple questions.

First of all, how do you pick a host for your light? There are just so many hosts out there and I have no idea which brands are good, things like that. I'm looking at a couple on FT:

Fandyfire F102
Ultrafire Zoomie

And then there's a couple that I like over on mtnelectronics:

Black "S3" EDC host
Convoy S2 Host

I really don't know the difference between these. I like the look of all of them, I definitely want something that will fit in my pocket easily and these seem to fit the bill. I think the ones from FT do not come with a reflector, which could be a plus since I prefer a smooth, wide flood without a hotspot, and I believe the ones from mtnelectronics are the kind that will have a hotspot. But it might be easier for my first light to just get one with a reflector built in since that's one less thing to worry about. I just don't want to start spending money on stuff when I don't even know if it will work for what I need.

Next off comes the LED, I'm thinking I'll go with one of these two options:

Nichia 4500K 92 CRI
Cree XM-L2 U3

They're almost the same price, so it really will boil down to whichever you guys recommend. I'm leaning toward the Cree, simply because I've heard great things about the XM-L2 and the U3 bin is their very brightest, plus I have a triple Nichia custom light coming my way from a friend, but I'm open to suggestions.

I don't really know much about drivers, I've read a lot but some of it seems like gibberish. Can any of you guys suggest a good driver for me? I need something that can work with the LEDs above, single 18650 power source, and preferably simple 2 or 3 modes, just low and high and maybe medium. Here's the one I'm considering right now:

QLITE REV.A 3.04A driver

From the reading I've done, I know that constant current is best for LED lights, and this one has some nice features like mode memory and reverse polarity protection, plus the ability to choose the modes easily by just soldering the ground to a different spot.

Sorry if I'm annoying you guys with all my questions, I just really want to make sure I do this right. Once I get my first light built, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it and have a lot less questions to bug you with :)

Offline Michael

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2014, 05:44:45 AM »
Whew, this is a lot of work and research! I've finally narrowed it down and figured out exactly what parts I need, I'm ordering from FT so I'll get them in... whenever the mailman decides to bring them. I've heard horror stories about FastTech being not-so-fast, so we'll see.

Here's my lineup of what I'm putting in this light:
Cree XM-L2 T6-3B LED emitter
Nanjg 105c Driver
Fandyfire F102 host

I'm also ordering some springs in case I need them for the contacts, I'm not sure if it's ok to just have the battery touching the driver or if I need a spring in between for the positive connection.

Thanks for all the help you guys have given, I'll post pics once I get it all finished. This one is going to be just a simple EDC light, I'm not worried about flood and throw as much as I am just getting it to work. The next light I build will be the fancy one :)

Offline IN caver

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2014, 02:04:49 PM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 2014, 02:06:32 PM by IN caver »

Offline JohnnyMac

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2014, 04:19:27 PM »
Whew, this is a lot of work and research! I've finally narrowed it down and figured out exactly what parts I need, I'm ordering from FT so I'll get them in... whenever the mailman decides to bring them. I've heard horror stories about FastTech being not-so-fast, so we'll see.

Here's my lineup of what I'm putting in this light:
Cree XM-L2 T6-3B LED emitter
Nanjg 105c Driver
Fandyfire F102 host

I'm also ordering some springs in case I need them for the contacts, I'm not sure if it's ok to just have the battery touching the driver or if I need a spring in between for the positive connection.

Thanks for all the help you guys have given, I'll post pics once I get it all finished. This one is going to be just a simple EDC light, I'm not worried about flood and throw as much as I am just getting it to work. The next light I build will be the fancy one :)
That all sounds good.  Just don't forget the pill and reflector like IN caver suggested.  As for the springs, you don't really need them for the anode contact if it's not a P60 light but you should have them for sure if it's P60 based.

In a non-p60 based light you can do without an anode spring as technically it will be an extra spot for resistance to show but that's only on insane builds where you are running in direct drive and need every bit of current possible.

Now if you are planning a light that is subject to lots of vibration (bike light, weapon mounted light, etc) then you want a spring on both ends of the cell so that power flow isn't interrupted by a sudden jolt or knock.

Offline Michael

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2015, 08:17:40 AM »
Ah thanks I wasn't sure if I needed the drop in pill or not, good to know. I'll figure out all the stuff about where to solder which leads when it gets here :P

I don't know which hosts are p60 or not since some of them don't say, but I'm getting a 10-pack so I'll probably just put Springs in all my future builds unless I find out otherwise. I won't be needing a bike or weapon light since I rarely ride my bike and don't even own a gun (yet) but I still wouldn't mind the extra "shake resistance" of having one in there.
Thanks for the tips guys!

Offline Michael

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2015, 08:58:48 AM »
I'm thinking about purchasing a new lens or two, since I've heard that coated glass is much brighter than just plain glass, and I also want to try a convex lens since my T60 has one and I really like the wide flood for an EDC. My question is, how exact do the measurements for a lens need to be for it to fit in the P60 style host I'm getting? I read somewhere that most P60 lights have about 28mm lenses, but fasttech doesn't carry many and the only convex 28mm lens they carry is plastic :( Would a 30mm lens fit, or at the very least would I be able to grind the very edges down a little with a dremel without totally screwing it up?

Here's the lenses I'm looking at if anyone wants to see them for reference:
30mm glass convex lens --- 28mm plastic convex lens --- 28mm tempered glass lens

Offline JohnnyMac

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Re: Where to start?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2015, 08:17:15 PM »
Grinding down a lens is a bitch and not worth the hassle.  KD.com has a lot of lenses so you may want to check there first.  An AR lens only makes a big difference is large thrower where you want every extra lumen you can muster.  In a 1000 lumen light you might gain an extra 30 lumens with AR coating and you honestly won't see a difference to the eye.  I wouldn't worry about it too much in a p60 light ;)

Grinding a glass lens isn't worth getting a glass chip in your eye. Don't ask how I know.:P
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 08:18:38 PM by JohnnyMac »