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Thread: DIY done cheap

  1. #1
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    DIY done cheap

    While I have a good set of lights ( Wilma 6, Edison 5, and a Dinotte 200L) I was interested in the DIY approach many on this board have pioneered.

    Design criteria:
    1. I'm going to use this light on my helmet so I don't want hot spots and the beam must be wide and uniform. Will use in parallel with a bar mounted light so I don't want to see a bright spot dancing in and out.
    2. Easy contruction - no milling or machining. Keep metal part count to a minimum. Only simple hand tools required.
    3. Simple assembly.
    4. Maximum heat transfer to ambient. Will be running at 1000ma.

    I haven't finished it yet. Still need a connector for the power in and to try it out with the 2600mah Li-Ion battery I bought and of course mounting. Not too worried about that part. The beam shot is with an 8 AA NiMH pack so I expect this is not the brightest beam I will end up with.

    Parts:
    Aluminum pieces
    case - 50mm wide with 1.5mm wall thickness cut to 1.7 inches in length
    L-bracket - 1/8" thick
    back cover plate - 1/16" thick
    Front cover - Polycarbonate - .093 thick (wish I could find a thinner piece)
    driver - 3021-D-E-1000 Buckpuck
    optics
    - CRS-D +/- 7 degree
    - CRS-M +/-14 degree
    LED - 2 Cree XR-E WC tint Q5 mounted on the MCPCB star

    assorted screws, thermal adhesive, glues, wires, etc.




    I think I achieved my design objectives. The construction was very easy especially once I found the perfect fit case material. The inside width and length perfectly fit the optics with 1mm gap on each side. The use of the L-bracket serves to mount and position the leds just right while maximizing contact with the top of the case. Only required two screws to hold the assembly in place. I have approximately 2 square inches of surface contact between the inside case and the top of the L-bracket. The case gets hot fairly quickly but even after 10 minutes on high it is not too hot to hold in your hand. The beam is excellent. I'm most pleased with that part. The first pic is of my DIY at 1000ma using 2 9degree optics. Those Q5s are VERY bright. The second pic is my Wilma on high for reference. The Wilma is only slightly brighter in the center. Aperature 4.0 and shutter was set at 1 second.

    Thanks to all those that posted earlier DIY projects. Your efforts are inspiring.
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    Last edited by il2mb; 11-11-2007 at 12:47 AM.

  2. #2
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    Brilliant design!

    How do you fasten the front glass and back plate? Silicon glue etc?

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    Glad you like the design...


    I'll use a lite amount of glue to hold the polycarbonate face plate in place as I don't expect to be removing it. The rear will be attached with 4 small machine screws.

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    This is an awesone design. I really like your design criteria 2, 3, & 4. This is exactly what I've been striving for. Can I ask where you found the case, angle bracket, and polycarbonate?

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    Thanks

    I got the aluminum rectangular stock here:

    http://metricmetal.com/products/squa...FRdPagodUB0GUQ

    Unfortunately, they have a minimum order requirement. I had to purchase 5 feet of this stuff at a cost of $95 dollars. 5 feet should translate conservatively into at least 25 housings. That's fine as I have friends that want me to build lights for them. I doubt I will need all 5 feet though. Want some?

    The L-bracket, polycarbonate, and back plate are readily available from just about any hardware store. Get a good file and some sandpaper to fine tune the fit after rough cutting the material.

  6. #6
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    Try this link for cheaper aluminum:

    http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant...=70&top_cat=60

  7. #7
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    more pics

    Pulled out the arsenal last night and took some more pics.

    The first pic is the Edison 5. Noticeably brighter than the Wilma but with the jagged beam edge
    Second one is the Dinotte 200L with spot beam
    Third pic is the DIY but this time with 2 25degree optics on board. Really lights up a wide swath of yard.
    the last shot is the Fenix L2D Premium100 flashlight

    All pics taken with an aperature value of 4.0 and a shutter speed of 1 sec.

    Not sure yet which optics combo will be the best for helmet use. I'll have to try them all.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by il2mb
    I got the aluminum rectangular stock here:

    http://metricmetal.com/products/squa...FRdPagodUB0GUQ

    Unfortunately, they have a minimum order requirement. I had to purchase 5 feet of this stuff at a cost of $95 dollars. 5 feet should translate conservatively into at least 25 housings. That's fine as I have friends that want me to build lights for them. I doubt I will need all 5 feet though. Want some?

    The L-bracket, polycarbonate, and back plate are readily available from just about any hardware store. Get a good file and some sandpaper to fine tune the fit after rough cutting the material.
    Thanks for the info and the offer! I'd like to copy your design in a 3 LED version. How did you connect the back plate to the housing?

  9. #9
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    Screws

    The wall thickness of the case being 1.5mm provides plenty of surface area for a screw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhxCycler
    Thanks for the info and the offer! I'd like to copy your design in a 3 LED version. How did you connect the back plate to the housing?
    I've been planning to do a 3-led version (great minds and all that) as a variant on Achesalot's excellent design, and while I too originally thought of using an angle, my final choice is to use another piece of rectangular tubing, slicing off the top surface to create a channel. That way I get both a led mounting surface and a back wall in one. I tried to find pre-formed channel stock to avoid doing that cut, but without success. I haven't decided whether I'll make it with my jeweller's saw, or my circle saw.

    The channel will slide into the housing the way a drawer slides into a chest, the rear surface forming the back wall. If I had access to precision metalworking tools, I'd cut lips and channels for o-ring sealing, but since I don't I reckon to recess the back wall by 0.25 inch and run a bead of silicone caulk to take care of it. With a well-polished mating surface (the bottom of the channel), some thermal grease, and bolts to clamp them together, I should think the thermal transfer will be very good. The only thing I (slightly) regret is that the 3x1 tubing from online metals has a 0.125 wall.

  11. #11
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    Katz,

    I was also looking at a 3 led design originally but that was back when I had the Cree Q2. With the Q5 and higher bins becoming available I'm beginning to think 2 leds get the job done. The Q5s in my light supposedly put out 235 lumens each at max current. The Cree R2 now available should be in the 250 lumen range. This is the main reason I bought the Wilma and not the Betty. 7 leds, in my mind, is not upgradable. 1400 lumens to what - 2000! Sure Lupine will offer an upgrade at some point but I don't need that much light. I think the next upgrade Lupine offers for the Wilma will take its output comfortable over 1000 lumens. Bike light designs will peak at around 1000 lumens and from there the direction in the market will entirely emphasize lighter and smaller heads with smaller batteries and loonger run times. Ever increasing light outputs have to peak at some point. Also remember that fewer leds makes for a simpler design.

    I'm quite surprised how the beam on my DIY looks. Very similiar in shape and uniformity as the Wilma. The intensity is slightly less but the Wilma cost me $600! As led output increases eventually we will only be buidling DIY with a single device. Wow! imagine a single led running at 600 lumens.

    Good luck with your build
    Last edited by il2mb; 11-10-2007 at 04:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by il2mb
    Good luck with your build
    Thanks for the good wishes. It was great seeing the results of your build - it was like seeing a preview of my own, only narrower.

    The success of your build also convinced me to use the square optics - they really do a good-looking job. And with the amount of light you're getting out of 2 leds, I think I'll be able to do a successful "lo-beam" by turning off my spot altogether and cutting the power on the floods to the bone. And with all three cranked up, plus big arrays of amber leds flashing maniacally, I hope even the drivers talking on their cellphones will get scared and think Godzilla is bearing down on them.

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    ready for a ride..

    I'll be taking the prototype out tonight for a spin. Here's a pic of the mounting. I had a spare Lupine helment mount laying around.
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    That's a good looking design. Really simple and solid. Maybe I should do 3 2xSSCs instead of 2 3xSSCs. Hmmm.
    It is really comparable to those commercial lights. Great job.
    What kind of thermal adhesive did you use for the L bracket? Is it in there for good, or can you remove it?
    BTW - How cheap is cheap?
    Wrecker of fine things

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    thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by 02Slayer
    That's a good looking design. Really simple and solid. Maybe I should do 3 2xSSCs instead of 2 3xSSCs. Hmmm.
    It is really comparable to those commercial lights. Great job.
    What kind of thermal adhesive did you use for the L bracket? Is it in there for good, or can you remove it?
    BTW - How cheap is cheap?
    It really is a simple design. Now that I've built this one I'm going to build two more for the bars. However, I will connect them to a single power supply. Two Q5s on full is really a lot of light. Going with a 2 led light head is simpler build than a 3 led head. One of these on the bars and one on the helmet is plenty of light. But for really technical trails I have the option to add the second bar light and frankly there is space to do it so why not.

    I use Arctic thermal paste (NOT adhesive) between the L-bracket and the case. Yes, that is removeable.

    Cheap? Optics, driver, LEDs cost about $50. I bought a 2600Mah Li-Ion battery with charger for about $100 but you can use 8 NiMH AAs for a lot cheaper. (I can also plug in a 9 volt transistor battery for backup - can't do that with a 3 led head.) For your first light build more expense is incurred due to the need to buy wiring, solder, adhesives, glues, and all those things that when you buy them you have to buy enough for 20 lights because that is just how things are sold. For example I bought a tube of Arctic thermal paste. It wasn't cheap but I only needed a little dab. If I go on to build 10 more lights I'll end up using it and getting my money worth. I also had to buy 5 feet of the case material for $95 and I doubt I'll use all that up. In addition, this doesn't take into consideration any tools that you might have to purchase. So the title of this thread should have been "DIY - done easy" rather than done cheap. it only gets cheap after building 10 or more lights. If I take those economics into the calculations I think this design could be put together for about $150.00 - $175.00 using a good Li-Ion battery

  16. #16
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    Yes, I am finding those hidden costs too. But hey, new tools are pretty fun, so what the hell. I'm in it for about $200 at this point, but I've got the stuff for 3 or 4 lights. (3 Cree Q5s and 6 SSC P4s). The Aluminum tube I bought at wholesale via metal supply warehouse scrap pile/shop set me back only $22, along with a nice 1/4 inch (7 mm) Al slab to use for heatsink. I have some square tubing from work for free, but I saw some rectangular tubing at the metal supplier just like yours and I thought it would work too. You proved it works, and looks good doing it. Wish me luck!!
    Wrecker of fine things

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    where are you guys getting these square optics? I have alot of 20mm round ones but i can't seem to find the square ones where i can buy them. I really like how yours looks and am currently building a helmet light. I have built 3 lights already that mount on the bars that use 6 led's and its alot of light. But i am looking into a smaller 3-4 led setup for the helmet and am trying to make it as small as possible and simple. I bought a 35mm round lens that holds 3 led's that i might use or go with a design like yours. I also already bought a shark controller (boost) so I can use a pot.

    I have narrowed it down to either 3 led's in the 35mm lens, 2-3-4 led's in 1" round tubing with round lenses (which will be harder to work with) or 2-3-4 led's in 1" square tubing (but can't find square lenses yet). I think the square tubing would be the easiest to work. Just waiting for all the supplies to come in so i can start working on it.

    But i really like your design. Good work.

  18. #18
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    cutter.com.au has them that I know of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brent878
    where are you guys getting these square optics?
    There's a group buy going on now at:
    http://www.cpfmarketplace.com/mp/sho...d.php?t=168870

  20. #20
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    Another option for batteries (if you can source a base) is your standard Li-Ion camcorder battery. I'm using a Sony InfoLithium M style base, and can get anywhere from a 1000mAh pack up to a 5000mAh pack for them. If you happen to own a camcorder, you can do the same thing and not have to buy new batteries. I got a broken camcorder and pulled the base off it for my DIY.

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    Well I finally upgraded the case on my DIY. Thought I'd share it with ya.
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    Very, very sharp! How did you do the housing like that?

  23. #23
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    il2mb Wowwwwww, very, very nice!!!! I'm like it!!!!

    How you have did the housing?? seem machined

    Greetings - Saludos

    msxtr
    Warning!!! my english is very very bad, sorry.

    Easy DIY led light1
    Easy DIY led light2

    The Beast!!!

  24. #24
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    I took the original stock of square tubing I had left over from the first light I built. There was enough material to build 20 more housings. I had a machine shop I use through my work crank 'em out. Turned out pretty good.

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    Time to sell the extra housings. how much? with everything( front len cover, nuts, and rear plate) except the internal parts.

  26. #26
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    Wow. thats one of the best looking DIY lights that I've seen yet. Great job..

  27. #27
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    Sweet...nice job

  28. #28
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    OK, I've had several requests from others that I might sell some of my cases. I've got 21 cases and enough material to build them up - excluding the actual leds, drivers, etc. I don't plan on building all 21. I've decided to keep only 8. There are already takers for 6 cases so that leaves 7 available.

    Each case "kit" will come with the following:

    > one each .031 & .062 polycarbonate plate. The .031 fits flush in the front. The .062 sits a little above the front surface and looks really cool as the side walls illuminate when the light is on - Dinotte style. Some people may not like that but I have both sizes so I'm including it.
    > 1/8 angle bracket cut to size and hardware
    > rear cover plate and hardware

    The case and rear cover plate have a nice bead blasted finish.

    I'm asking $30 for each kit. I'll pick up the shipping charge if it is within the US.

    Here is how I arrived at the $30 price.


    My costs

    Material
    - square aluminum tubing - $100 shipped
    - angle bracket - $15.00
    - rear plate - $10.00
    - polycarbonate - precut $1.00 each ( I had to buy 30)
    - assorted hardware - about $5.00 - $10.00

    Machining - $350.00. My machinist cut and finished 21 cases, the angle bracket to fit inside the case, and made the rear plates. This is a very good price as any of you that have had to work with custum machining will know.

    So my total outlay comes to about $500 ( I know - could have bought a nice light for that!). Divide by 21 and you get about $24.00 for each kit. I'm telling everyone this so they don't think I'm making a profit. And keep in mind that doesn't include my labor. Those of you that have attempted the DIY path for acquiring a bike light know that the case is the most challenging portion. I think this kit will make your task a lot easier.

    So if anyone wants a "kit" send me a message.

    Bob

    PS
    Mr. moderator if this post is inappropriate as it obviously is me selling something let me know and I'll place an ad in the classifieds.
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  29. #29
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    I don't think it is all inappropriate for you to make a profit. Your time and skill are worth something. You know what they call girls who give it away.

    BTW, PM sent.
    Let the market decide!

    N42.58 W83.06

  30. #30
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    That looks Great!

  31. #31
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    Sorry, after clicking on "Quick reply..." I realized I should have just clicked on your name to send a private message, which is what I did.
    Last edited by sloshred; 12-24-2007 at 08:58 PM.

  32. #32
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    Looks great, but didn't you bust your original design criteria #2? (no milling or machining)
    Still, the original was indeed a nice simple design, and the machined version looks terrific!
    Keep up the good work! (and $30 for that kit is a steal)

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    thanksalot

    Coming from the master DIY that means a lot.

    Yea, the thread should read DIY done easy. Cheap is a matter of perspective. For me the experience certainly hasn't been cheap. But it has been fun.

  34. #34
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    Check your PM's il2mb.....I'm interested in one of the lights housings.

    Thanks!

    Brian
    www.thepathbikeshop.com

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by il2mb
    Well I finally upgraded the case on my DIY. Thought I'd share it with ya.
    That is superb!

  36. #36
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    i'll buy one!

    In case you see this before your private message, I'd like to buy a kit. They look sweeeet!
    sloshred@hotmail.com
    thanks, Ed

  37. #37
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    kit status

    folks,

    I'm down to the last 2 kits. 13 have been sold. There are many of you that have sent PMs telling me that you want a kit but have not sent payment. Each of you has my email address so please email me first if you still want a kit. DO NOT send payment unless you have an email from me after this date and time > 12/27/07 @ 8:15 AM PST. I don't want to have to send money back to you.


    Bob

    PS

    To the scammers trying to phish into my paypal account. Eat SH&*#@!T

  38. #38
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    Light Kit

    Great looking design. Sent you a PM to see if you have any kits left.

    Could be a nice little side business for you.
    I ride at ludicrous speed

  39. #39
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    last two

    Update:

    since posting this message there has been a slew of requests. I only have two left so they are on hold for the first two persons that contacted me today. They know who they are. I gave them a deadline to make payment so if they fail to by the time I set I will contact the next person on the list.

    PLEASE DON'T SEND ANY PAYMENTS TO ME THROUGH PAYPAL UNLESS YOU ARE ONE OF THE TWO THAT I EMAILED.

    Thanks

    Bob

    PS
    This is a major pain in the A$$!




    Quote Originally Posted by il2mb
    folks,

    I'm down to the last 2 kits. 13 have been sold. There are many of you that have sent PMs telling me that you want a kit but have not sent payment. Each of you has my email address so please email me first if you still want a kit. DO NOT send payment unless you have an email from me after this date and time > 12/27/07 @ 8:15 AM PST. I don't want to have to send money back to you.


    Bob

    PS

    To the scammers trying to phish into my paypal account. Eat SH&*#@!T

  40. #40
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    About the PIA part.
    I've been through exactly the same thing and know what you mean

  41. #41
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    Sweet case, I like it! Gotta find a job with access to a machine shop!

  42. #42
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    All cases are sold

    I sold off 15 case "kits." I decided to keep only 6 instead of the 8 I originally posted. There was quite a bit of interest and I think I could have sold another 15 kits had I the parts. Maybe after the first I will do another run.

    To those that bought the case I have already mailed 6 and still need to get the remaining 9 out. I will mail them as fast as I can. I doubt I can get them all out tomorrow but more than likely it will take me until after the first of the year. Several of you asked if I would assist with your light builds - No way!



    Just kidding. You have my email. Feel free to contact me with any questions. I went through 3 prototypes before arriving at my final design. It isn't all that hard but it is easy to make stupid mistakes, as I did, if you don't think through things. I will also post a more detailed parts list and some assembly instructions.

    Good luck.


    Bob

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    improvement: since the tube is machined to make the fins, would it be more efficient for cooling to make the fins perpendicular instead of parallel, like in Hope 4led ?


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    Yes it would be more efficient when your are riding, but I don't think that heat is going to be an issue when you are riding. There are only 2 emitters and quite a lot of aluminium to dissipeat that 6-7 Watt. I am building a light that is half the size (1 inch square tube) with 5 leds, then heat is going to be a serious problem without additional heatsinking.

  45. #45
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    hey, what do you guys think about a pair of thriple Rebel stars (once optics are available) in one of these cases.

    1000 lumens in a small package. is it possible??

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by k0y0te
    hey, what do you guys think about a pair of thriple Rebel stars (once optics are available) in one of these cases.

    1000 lumens in a small package. is it possible??
    I think that's what everyone's dreaming about.

  47. #47
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    Off course that is possible, the stars will easily fit in the housing. But I was more thinking about putting 10 rebels inside with the Penta Ledil lens, 2000 Lumens @ 1A It can be done, but I am not going to do it. 10 Rebels cost me 70 euro, I'll need 2 Fatman drivers to drive them, 4 Li-ion cells in my standard batterypack won't do the job either, so it would be a bit too expensive joke. I am a roadie so the Penta Rebel I am building is already over-kill, I can only use it on "high" when I am on small roads when there are no cars.

  48. #48
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    I think it is possible to build a triple led light with this housing, but it is going to be tight:


    IMS 17 mm reflectors are 17.6 mm, with a little shaving from the reflectors it should fit. The IMS reflectors are almost as deep as the Ledil square lenses so that shouldn't give problems as well. For myself 3 leds is a lot easier with the electronics, my li-ion packs are 7.4V, so with 2 leds I can't use buck converters and boost converters. As an EE I can make my own lineair very low dropout regulator, but I am lazy sometimes. Soldering a fatman with 3 leds is a lot less work.

  49. #49
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    il2mb, are you going to be making up any more of these (housing) kits and would you be prepared to ship to the UK? Obviously I would have to pay the shipping costs.

    Thanks.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoodoo
    il2mb, are you going to be making up any more of these (housing) kits and would you be prepared to ship to the UK? Obviously I would have to pay the shipping costs.

    Thanks.

    I'm thinking about it. This first round didn't fare too well. I underestimated my costs. I'll take a look at it a little closer in the next couple of weeks and decide. The good news is the light generated a lot of interest. I didn't have any problem selling 15 cases @ $30 ea. We'll see what happens if I up the price. One thing I did learn is the "kit" needs to include more stuff - maybe everything a DIY would need to build the light. For example, the kit I sold didn't include a DC jack, trim pot, driver, LEDs, or optics. I left considerable stuff for others to buy. But unless they have access to a good electronics store they might find getting those things a problem. Purchasing online is fine if you don't mind spending $7.00 shipping cost on a $2.56 part. So including those things in the kit will save buyers shipping costs and increase their incentive.

    Bob

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