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  1. #1
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    DIY LED shopping list: feedback needed!

    Hi all,

    So I have been reading and reading and reading, both here and on CPF. I'm about ready to start ordering bits and pieces but I am unsure of a few details, and I would like to double check everything with people who have done this before. Please bear with me, and thanks for any feedback you can give!

    (If it matters, for shipping concerns and such, I am in Canada.)

    This is going to be an "achesalot" 3 LED design (thanks, achesalot!).

    Housing: I am working on sourcing 1/16" thick square tubing. Got a source for 1/8" thick, but the optics won't fit in there.

    LEDs: Cree seems to have the most solid reputation. I am looking at the Q5 diodes on stars. The R2 is a bit brighter, but I don't know if the slight light increase would be worth the added cost.
    - Q5 or other?
    - What tints do people prefer?

    Optics: The Ledil square optics seem like they are far too perfect to not use in an achesalot design light.
    - Any recommendation on an optics combination for a helmet mount setup? (I could also buy a couple of extras and mix and match until I find the ideal setup.)

    Driver: bFlex from taskLED. There really doesn't seem to be any question about that.
    - Any recommendations for a little status LED?

    Switch: Any reason to not just use the switch that comes with the bFlex?

    Wire: ??
    - What guage do people use?
    - How do people waterproof/eletrically-isolate connections/splicings?

    Power cords and connections: I am still not sure about this bit. All I know is that I would like to run a female jack built into the light housing, preferably low profile.
    - What kinds of jacks are recommended? (Type, brand, etc.)
    -Coiled cords to keep things in order, what kind where to buy?

    Battery: I am going to try to source batteries from a local shop, but failing that, am I stuck with BatterySpace or is there a more reliably option?
    - Any reason to not go Li-Ion apart from cost?

    Thermal adhesive:
    - Arctic Alumina? Is this the best option?

    Thermal Compound:
    -Arctic Alumina again? Where do people use this?

    J-B Weld: Should I use the not quick-drying version?

    Dealers: taskLED is obvious enough, buying straight from them seems to make sense. Cutter seems well used but I have heard some negative stories. Are they still a good bet or is there somewhere else good for the LEDs? How about the Ledil optics? Any purchasing suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    ...And I think the mounting solution and such I will figure out on my own.
    Thanks for any and all input! I am really quite excited about getting this project rolling!

    Also, thanks to all of you who have previously taken the plunge with projects like this, you guys are an inspiration!

  2. #2
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    I too am starting a build with three Cree Q4's and a tripple optic from Khatod that fits the mag D head perfectly. I cut the maglite down just like some of the other mods I've seen posted so there's really nothing new. I've tried to source the Artic adhesive from a good distributor in the big city but they couldn't find it. I am considering just using JB-Weld because I've read the packaging and it states it's good up to 600 degrees and it's not conductive. I chose to use slow cure adhesives because they give the best bond and really what's the hurry anyway. This build has been weeks in the making as it's is allready.

    The wire gage is spec'd to just be something that will handle the current I'm going to throw into the LEDs. I was thinking I would use solid wire on the LEDs themselves and a good copper strand wire to fish through the heatsink. Beyond the driver board I am going to use a pre-made cable from Batteryspace with waterproof connectors. I would like to have a female style plug on the head itself too but that's makes things a little busy inside and really not neccessary.

    The switch idea is one that I found here too. Take an old computer mouse switch, build a housing to fit it and dip it in liquid plastic to waterproof it. I want my switch located close to the grips because that's what I've become accustomed to.

    I allready have several battery packs, both NiMH and Li-Ion, 6v - 7.4v and 14.8 from Batteryspace, which I've never had a problem with, that gives me choices when it comes to which driver to use. I posed the question in the Candlepower forums and it seems the best combination would be to use a boost driver but for now all I have is a Buckpuck. One day in one of my next builds I will try the bflex but I'm trying to keep my costs at a minimum for now.

    I hope some of this helps. There are all sorts of options that give builders choices so who's to say you should do it one way. The thing to to keep in mind that if you come up with something new that works posting it here is a must. Kudos to you and your choice to build.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mofoki
    I've tried to source the Artic adhesive from a good distributor in the big city but they couldn't find it.
    The Arctic adhesives are available at computer parts dealers like Newegg. You can probably buy it at a local computer store.

  4. #4
    Ted
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    Try this link for your aluminum:

    http://www.onlinemetals.com/

    My local hardware store also has the achesalot size square tubing.

    I am also interested in the wire guage. I am wiring my achesalot light today and would like to know what others are using.

  5. #5
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    mofoki: What is the difference between solid wire and the strand wire? Noticeable functional difference? Thanks!

    gmcttr: That is a great tip about the computer stores!

    Ted: Have you used that site personally? I'm kind of new to buying online and am still largely hesitant to do so... Maybe I will have to look around some more locally. Thanks for the link though, that will likely be kept in mind as my backup.

  6. #6
    Ted
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    Yes, I have used that site. I was concerned about finding the right sized aluminum and about my ability to cut it properly so I ordered from them. They have an interesting cut policy. The first one or two cuts are free, then they start to charge. I would think that after the setup for the first cut the next few would be free. Anyway, they delivered promptly and were reasonably priced. They also have a large selection of metals and shapes to choose from. I now have more confidence in my abilities so I would probably buy from the local hardware store if they had what I was looking for.

    I got my Arctic Alumina Adhesive from: http://www.bestbyteinc.com/index.htm...mber=COTIASAAA

    lenses from: http://led-spot.com/index.shtml

    stars from: Deal Extreme (Seoul P4)

    I got this switch from Digikey: http://search.digikey.com/scripts/Dk...me=450-1470-ND

    driver is a buckpuck from: http://ledsupply.com/03021-d-e-1000.php

    and this rubber cover for the switch: http://search.digikey.com/scripts/Dk...me=450-1546-ND
    Last edited by Ted; 11-10-2007 at 11:34 AM.

  7. #7
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    That is great to hear, thanks!

  8. #8
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    It's my thinking that the location where the LEDs are soldered together is where the most heat is going to be generated. That heat can warp the wire especially stranded wire and increase the possibility of a short. I think it's just makes for a better assembly and if you insulate the heatsink also, directly under the wire connecting the LEDs, it adds peace of mind. I've seen other mods that have been built and in my opinion the ones that used solid wire made for a much nicer looking job.

  9. #9
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    So the solid wire will be less flexible and harder to work with, but a lot more robust than the stranded? I hadn't even thought about there being different kinds of wires like this... wow, much to learn still!

  10. #10
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    Another option on the wires between the LEDs is offcuts from resistors and 3 or 5mm LEDs.
    Very flexible and easy to solder.

    I originally was using solid copper wire as a beginner as the stranded would spread and look messy.
    But after a bit of experience now use stranded teflon wire -usually 24AWG between the LEDs

    For other stuff teflon is nice to use as the covering doesn't melt if it gets a bit hot -and the wall is much thinner than equivalent stock wire -so you can use a heavier guage in tight holes.

    Any guage -between 26AWG(very thin) to 20AWG is nice to use for LED applications
    The thicker the better of course :-)

    These are only MY opinions and experiences - other peoples will differ.

    Cheers
    Dom

  11. #11
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    Offcuts? What do you mean? How do these compare to wire that I could buy off the shelf?

    The stranded teflon sounds nice, but with no experience soldering will this be a problem? Though I should be able to get some help with soldering if need be.

    Thanks for the feedback; the guage suggestion is just what I needed and the teflon recommendation is a great bonus as well!

  12. #12
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    Hi HoW
    The offcuts are coated with what looks like silver and are very flexible without breaking -very easy to solder.


    The teflon wire is also coated silver and is nice to use -though there are other choices like spaghetti wire and silicone wire - i think the teflon is the cheaper -though not positive.
    I like not having the sheath melt.

    I think alot of people use solid wire on the LED to LED joins anyway -just preference :-)

    Cheers
    Dom

  13. #13
    Ted
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    I just wired my first achesalot design yesterday. I used solid 22 guage for all internals. It was easy to solder and easy to work with. For the power wire I used 20 guage stranded because it is more flexible.

  14. #14
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    Thanks poobardog! I will keep an eye out for the teflon wire.

    Ted, thanks, it is always good to know how other people are doing it!

    I guess I will probably use solid wire or offcuts for between LEDs, and then the Teflon wire everywhere else.

    Any other recommendations on part choices or good dealers?

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