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  1. #1
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    new light build, need opinions/options

    Hello All,

    I am just finishing up a new bike build and thought I should make a new light setup for it. Its been 4 years since I made a light and although my lights are still running strong I think its time for new tech. I am sure there has been alot of changes in the last 4 years in LED and circuits to run them.

    Here is the light I am still using now.

    my LED light build.

    Sorry but the pics are gone now, but i'll try and look for them and repost them. My light currently is 6 P4's @ 1amp. I would like more light output with better run times if posible. I started playing around with P7 LED's when they first came out but never made a custom light for them.

    Can you point me in the right direction for the following:

    LED's
    optics/reflectors
    boost/buck pucks

    Housing I will probably just make by hand, can't really design this yet until I know how many led's I am going to be running and what size optics. Would like to keep it as small and light as possible. Battery I would like to use my current one which is 14.8v 4400mah

    http://www.all-battery.com/li-ion186...bareleads.aspx

    Thanks,
    Brent

  2. #2
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    what sort of light (bar vs. helmet) do you want? Will you be upgrading an existing housing or making a new one? How bright vs. how long a runtime? Do you prefer floody or super spotty lights? Info like that will help people guide you better.

    Then there are always all the build threads posted up here, which should give you a good range of ideas and opinions

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    what sort of light (bar vs. helmet) do you want? Will you be upgrading an existing housing or making a new one? How bright vs. how long a runtime? Do you prefer floody or super spotty lights? Info like that will help people guide you better.

    Then there are always all the build threads posted up here, which should give you a good range of ideas and opinions
    This will be a bar mount, I can use my existing housings but I would need to make new mounts as I will be going to a 31.8mm bar setup on the new bike. That is one of the reasons I am looking into building a new light as I already have to fab up mounts for my current light since it won't be a bolt on swap. If I am going to go through work of making stuff might as well upgrade my lights while I am at it.

    My light current light setup is a old night sun housing. It was for 2 m16?(50mm) halogen lights that I converted to a 50mm optics that use 3 ssc P4 led's. So 2 of those is 6 led's total with a 10 degree spot. I am guessing its around 1000 lumens at full power (1A). I get about an hour on high and 4 hours on low. I alternate and I am able to do my 2.5 hour ride no problems.

    I have also been using a P7 flash light on my bars sometimes or on my helmet. Its a narrow beam so on the helmet its fine but on the bars its alittle too narrow. So I need alittle more flood than a flash light but not as wide as a flood optics.

    Ya I started going through other peoples build and didn't recoginze any of the LED's they were using and didn't recognize the circuits they were using. So its almost like I am starting from scratch again since all of my parts I am using are obsolite now. That is why I created this thread to kinda push me in the right direction.

    I am almost done with my bike build, waiting on some warranty parts to finish and the light build will start after that. So this is the planning stage of the light build. I will continue to do my own research too.

  4. #4
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    working with your old housings might be tricky, as there aren't a huge amount of options for 50mm dropins. I'd suggest sticking with a triple, as that would be the most efficient option with your battery. If the current bar mount is attached at the base with a bolt, you might be able to convert to either Cateye or Marwi mounts for your 31.8mm bars.

    current kings of LEDs at the moment are XP-G R5 and XM-L T6/U2 (LED name then bin/. efficiency no.). XP-Gs can be run up to 1.5A (~450lm each) and XM-Ls up to 3A (~1000lm each) but they'll both need a fair amount of surface area to do so.

    XP-G are smaller, so it's a little easier to get a spot beam (using a Ledil Regina reflector), whereas the XM-L die is much larger, so is a little harder to focus to a spot (Ledil Laura RS is the current fave, along with the LC1). Most reflectors/ optics are set up for 20mm stars though, so I'm not sure how that would work in your 50mm housings (you could always step down to 35mm though, more triple options at that size). Any triple run at >1.5A in an old halogen era housing would probably struggle with heat though.

    what driver are you using at the moment? Buckpuck? No reason you can't reuse that, though personally I love using the Taskled because of all their features (multiple power levels, low battery warning, thermal protection etc).

    The best approach (what I did many months ago) is to work out a rough plan of what you want and how you think you can do it, then post it up here. People can then critique it and help you refine the plan into something workable

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    working with your old housings might be tricky, as there aren't a huge amount of options for 50mm dropins. I'd suggest sticking with a triple, as that would be the most efficient option with your battery. If the current bar mount is attached at the base with a bolt, you might be able to convert to either Cateye or Marwi mounts for your 31.8mm bars.
    If there are not good 50mm dropin optics then there is no good reason to reuse my existing housings. Since they are still working lights I can just save them for backup's or mount them on my motorcycles and use them. Its not a big deal for me to start from scratch.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    current kings of LEDs at the moment are XP-G R5 and XM-L T6/U2 (LED name then bin/. efficiency no.). XP-Gs can be run up to 1.5A (~450lm each) and XM-Ls up to 3A (~1000lm each) but they'll both need a fair amount of surface area to do so.

    XP-G are smaller, so it's a little easier to get a spot beam (using a Ledil Regina reflector), whereas the XM-L die is much larger, so is a little harder to focus to a spot (Ledil Laura RS is the current fave, along with the LC1). Most reflectors/ optics are set up for 20mm stars though, so I'm not sure how that would work in your 50mm housings (you could always step down to 35mm though, more triple options at that size). Any triple run at >1.5A in an old halogen era housing would probably struggle with heat though.
    The 20mm stars wouldn't be a problem in the 50mm as that is what I have my P4's mounted too in there. I have a pretty good heat sink in my housings so I think that wouldn't be a problem. But I don't think my battery would live too long with 6x 3A or even 1.5a LED's. If the new LED's (XM-L) are putting out 1000lm then maybe I should go with a 2 or 3 LED setup in a new custom housing. That would make it smaller, lighter, and I can design it around the new bike. I have some 20mm square and round alum tubing from another project I can maybe use for the housing. I also have 35mm round alum tubing from another light too.


    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    what driver are you using at the moment? Buckpuck? No reason you can't reuse that, though personally I love using the Taskled because of all their features (multiple power levels, low battery warning, thermal protection etc).
    I have made 4 custom lights and used buckpuck, buckpuck + pot, boostpuck + pot, and a Taskled Bflex?. I basically based it off of what battery I was using and how many led's I had in the lights. But the Bflex with a remote switch was my favorite out of all of them so far.
    Right now all are configured to output 1A so reusing any of them will probably restrict me. So I will get a new one for this light setup so I don't have to work around any restrictions.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    The best approach (what I did many months ago) is to work out a rough plan of what you want and how you think you can do it, then post it up here. People can then critique it and help you refine the plan into something workable
    Ya I am trying to get a grasp of all the new tech so I can come up with the plan. Your post has helped me alot. Once I figure out how many and what led's I am going to use, then I can pick out optics and base the housing around that. The buck/boost will depend on the draw of the LED's and my battery.

  6. #6
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    your battery should still be fine, unless it's more than a couple of years old.

    I was about to say "if I were you, I'd do...." then realised I'm actually about to make something similar to what you want I've been planning a bar light for 4mths or so - twin XM-L @3A (Laura RS and CXP-RS optics), controlled by a H6flex from taskled, using a 3S2P battery (so 11.1V 4400mAh ish). Housing is going to be 1in sq aluminium, using a cateye spacer and bracket (a double sled light essentially). Total cost is ~$100 excluding charger.

    max output is a theoretical 1800lm or so, runtime should be ~2h give or take on high

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    forgot to say, if you want an easy upgrade in the meantime, simply replacing those P4s with XP-G R5s should still give you ~800lm theoretical, compared with 5-600lm, even at 1A. Cost would be ~$30 for the LEDs and reflectors.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    your battery should still be fine, unless it's more than a couple of years old.

    I was about to say "if I were you, I'd do...." then realised I'm actually about to make something similar to what you want I've been planning a bar light for 4mths or so - twin XM-L @3A (Laura RS and CXP-RS optics), controlled by a H6flex from taskled, using a 3S2P battery (so 11.1V 4400mAh ish). Housing is going to be 1in sq aluminium, using a cateye spacer and bracket (a double sled light essentially). Total cost is ~$100 excluding charger.

    max output is a theoretical 1800lm or so, runtime should be ~2h give or take on high

    This sounds almost exactly like what I am picturing in my head based on the details you had given me earlier. Make sure you give me a link if you are going to to a build thread. I'll have to check which taskled I will need based on my 14.8v battery but this should be good.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet
    forgot to say, if you want an easy upgrade in the meantime, simply replacing those P4s with XP-G R5s should still give you ~800lm theoretical, compared with 5-600lm, even at 1A. Cost would be ~$30 for the LEDs and reflectors.
    I'll have to look into this in the mean time. Could I use my current optics or are the XP-G different shape/size than the P4's?

  9. #9
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    I definitely be doing a build thread (if just to show all these CNC and mill whizes how Real Men build lights ), just have to make a LED dome light for the car 1st so I can see where my bike's going after a ride..

    flex driver depends on drive current and battery cell count. If you're sticking with your current battery, then you can choose either the b2flex (max 1.5A) or h6flex (max 6A or something ridiculous). If you're building a new battery pack, then the lfex (max 3.5A I think) is another option - cell count has to = LED count, so 2S in this case. The lflex is a little easier to work with as it's smaller than the other 2, but you give up the status LED (ie. the main LED flashes for the battery warnings, which is a bit annoying) and you're limited to max 2 LEDs as it's a direct linear converter, not a buck regulator like the b2flex and h6flex. Downside of the h6flex is that it's a bit pricey and it's bloody enormous (40mm?)

    you'd have to get new optics for the XP-G as they're much smaller than the P4. Still, if you can fit 20mm stars in your light head, Reginas will fit and they're only $2.50 or so each from Digikey

  10. #10
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    Ok so now that its getting dark time to start ordering parts for this light. Let me know if this sounds good or if there are better options out there.

    battery: 14.8v 4400mah (already own)
    driver: h6flex
    led: 2x cree XML
    optics: would like 20mm if possible. Reginas?

    I am calculating at high (3000mA) a run time of 1.5 hours and low (1400mA) alittle over 3 hours. Does this sound right. If so then I think that will meet my requirements.

    As for the housing probably going to end up with something like matt the muppets buid. Finally, a Real Light (TM) for a Real Man (TM)
    Won't be exactly like that but using the same tools as him and hopefully will come out with something functional and awesome looking, haha.

  11. #11
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    Take the battery pack apart, make double capacity 7.4V pack and use lFlex on double XM-ls. Quiet cheaper Optics? 1 Regina + 1 LXP RS

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toaster79 View Post
    Take the battery pack apart, make double capacity 7.4V pack and use lFlex on double XM-ls. Quiet cheaper Optics? 1 Regina + 1 LXP RS

    so your saying I should make the 14.8v 4400mah into 7.4v 8800mah? And I am not familiar with IFlex. Is that still a buck driver? And what would be the benifits of going to the 7.4 and IFlex vs the 14.8v and h6flex? I would think run times would be the same, maybe a bit more effecient on the driver side but I wouldn't think it would vary too much. Am I missing something? Or are you saying that an IFlex is cheaper than a h6flex?

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    lflex is a lot cheaper but also alot smaller, which makes it easier to fit into builds.

    If you're going for a sled style light (which I heartily recommend, obviously ), see if you can find some 2x1 alu tubing as it would make your life a lot easier. Just 2 bits of alu to cut, rather than 6.

    As for optics, I like all of the ones I use, although the CXP-RS is a pain to use. Laura RS plus LXP-RS would be an interesting combo. Regina and LXP-RS works really nicely (using mine as a helmet light) although it might be a bit spotty as a bar light - the Regina has a small spot and wiiide spill, whereas the LXP-RS is more of a narrow smooth flood if that makes sense. Together they have a really nice smooth spot beam, with a dimmer wide spread from the Regina. The Laura RS and CXP-RS is a lot smoother, but wider, although still with a good spot and throw.

    I'd just buy one or two of each, they're not expensive (although the Laura is a pain to get hold of) and any you have left over you can use on another light

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    Quote Originally Posted by brent878 View Post
    so your saying I should make the 14.8v 4400mah into 7.4v 8800mah? And I am not familiar with IFlex. Is that still a buck driver? And what would be the benifits of going to the 7.4 and IFlex vs the 14.8v and h6flex? I would think run times would be the same, maybe a bit more effecient on the driver side but I wouldn't think it would vary too much. Am I missing something? Or are you saying that an IFlex is cheaper than a h6flex?
    The LFlex is a linear driver, not a buck driver, so it burns off excess voltage as heat. Therefore you wouldn't be able to power a twin XM-L from a 14.8V battery pack as it would burn out. However if the battery voltage is only slightly above the forward voltage of the LED load then it is actually pretty efficient, as well as small and cheaper. So a 2S battery pack works well for your requirement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    lflex is a lot cheaper but also alot smaller, which makes it easier to fit into builds.

    If you're going for a sled style light (which I heartily recommend, obviously ), see if you can find some 2x1 alu tubing as it would make your life a lot easier. Just 2 bits of alu to cut, rather than 6.

    As for optics, I like all of the ones I use, although the CXP-RS is a pain to use. Laura RS plus LXP-RS would be an interesting combo. Regina and LXP-RS works really nicely (using mine as a helmet light) although it might be a bit spotty as a bar light - the Regina has a small spot and wiiide spill, whereas the LXP-RS is more of a narrow smooth flood if that makes sense. Together they have a really nice smooth spot beam, with a dimmer wide spread from the Regina. The Laura RS and CXP-RS is a lot smoother, but wider, although still with a good spot and throw.

    I'd just buy one or two of each, they're not expensive (although the Laura is a pain to get hold of) and any you have left over you can use on another light

    ya right now I am looking at ussing 2x1 alu tubing and probably a sled type design. I will look into the optics you listed and like you said probably buy several of them and use the one I like. Thanks for your input I got a feeling mine is going to turn out very similar to yours.

    Does my battery run times look correct, still kinda toying with the idea for 3 XML's but I don't want to have to worry about battery times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfj197 View Post
    The LFlex is a linear driver, not a buck driver, so it burns off excess voltage as heat. Therefore you wouldn't be able to power a twin XM-L from a 14.8V battery pack as it would burn out. However if the battery voltage is only slightly above the forward voltage of the LED load then it is actually pretty efficient, as well as small and cheaper. So a 2S battery pack works well for your requirement.
    Ahh I see what your saying now. I thought you were saying iflex and not Lflex. I don't mind the extra cost of the H6flex but smaller would be alittle nicer. But with the design in my head the H6flex won't be too much of an issuse, it will just make my housing alittle deeper which will also help with cooling. I just don't want to hastle with reconfiguring the batterys. If I was buying new battery's I would probalby go with the Lflex like you are saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brent878 View Post
    ya right now I am looking at ussing 2x1 alu tubing and probably a sled type design. I will look into the optics you listed and like you said probably buy several of them and use the one I like. Thanks for your input I got a feeling mine is going to turn out very similar to yours.

    Does my battery run times look correct, still kinda toying with the idea for 3 XML's but I don't want to have to worry about battery times.
    I wouldn't really bother with 3 XM-Ls - that's a lot of heat to get rid of, plus 2 XM-Ls even at 2A is seriously bright, 2 XM-Ls at 3A is plenty for most of the riding people do (high speed alpine descents aside ). The housing design would also be a bit more awkward, plus you don't lose that much efficiency driving 2 LEDs from 4 cells compared to 3 from 4 (1-3% would be my guess). One plus of the h6flex is that you can use a STAT LED to warn about battery levels, instead of having to use the main LEDs with the lflex. My helmet light is set to flash the main LEDs and it almost always hits the Medium warning in the middle of my last descent of the night. Thankfully it's not my brightest light, but it can be distracting (I always think my eye lids are sticking together for some reason).

    I've posted beamshots for all those optics/ reflectors in the beamshot thread, so that might help. I'd be interested in seeing 2x Laura or Laura+LXP. 2x LXP RS would be interesting for a helmet light - I might try that when I next place a Digikey order. There's also the Ledil Rose RS and the LC1 to think about, they've both had good reviews.

  18. #18
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    Here is the best place to buy:

    cree XM-L led's.
    Laura RS and CXP-RS optics for XM-L

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    is that "here" as in missing a link or "where" as in missing a w?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    is that "here" as in missing a link or "where" as in missing a w?
    haha sorry that was a question.

    Where is the best place to buy the XM-L's and optics? I found the XM-L on DX but it didn't really state the bin and effeciency so wasn't sure if that was the best place to get it. Also I remember long time ago when I was building my first set of lights someone posted a link to buy metal online that was pretty reasonable. If not I can go to my metal place but I gotta buy a lot of it to be price worthy as they charge me $7 a cut unless I buy the whole 20ft piece.

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    ah, I got ya now!

    XM-Ls I would get from Kaidomain or Cutter - the first will be cheaper but slower, the latter quicker (and more tint choice) but more expensive due to the postage. Avoid DX, I don't trust them and they suck this time of year

    Optics:
    LXP-RS, CXP-RS, Regina - all from Digikey. Personally I prefer the LXP-RS out of those 3. They're all about the same price $2-3
    Laura-RS - Newark. Postage is ~$5, so I'd order a couple just to make it worth it. Be careful of any potential $20 handling fee. Very good optic, probably best optic for throw, although I'd like to compare it with the LXP-RS
    LC1 - no idea, only person I know who's used them lives Dahn Unda

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    as for metal online, you'll just have to search around. Most of them have reasonable prices but it's the shipping that kills you. You're not going to get anything of a useable size for less than $7, so I'd go with that, just buy enough to make 2 lights

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    ok started ordering some stuff. Odered the LED's and optics. Waiting on taskled to get more stock of the h6flex. Optics already came in. I will go to the metal store hopefully tomorrow and start picking out the housing material. Atleast I can start working on that while other stuff comes in.

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