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  1. #1
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    Project Bubbles (build thread)

    It has been a long time since I built a light, the last one has been working pretty well. This light has been on the drawing board in a different form for a while, but I finally got the inspiration to get off my butt and build it - that is after seeing Troutie's aspheric lights which provided the inspiration. Originally this was going to be based on triple carclo optics and use XPE's, but the aspherics are too cool to pass up.



    This is a focusing jig, not the best, but works OK.







    The only progress so far is a fixture to hold the parts of the light and the front cover. I still need to get some parts, namely the XML's and the H6FLEX to drive it.













    I still need to mill the body and the back plate (waiting on an endmill for the body since it needs to be longer than normal). Based on past performance, I can see this taking about a week or two to complete if nothing else gets in my way. The milling process is slow and I am still a novice for the CNC stuff.

  2. #2
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    Looks very interesting Huffy, I will be watching this like a hawk.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Is the design meant to have adjustable focus? Or was the jig just to find the optimal distance for throw or whatever beam pattern your after?

  4. #4
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    Thanks Yeti, I am making more progress than I thought I would, so I may have some more pics tonight.

    DIY, the jig is just as you said to find the optimal distance. An adjustable focus would be cool, but I would probably end up cradled in the arms of a cactus if I had something like that.

  5. #5
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    I Likey , Looks most interesting Huffy Puffy Got my beady aspherical trout-like eyes on this build .

    Any more details on the lenses

  6. #6
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    Thanks Troutie

    I picked up the optics at surplusshed.com - I also got a 44mm optic which has some serious throw, but was too big for this project. I have some beamshots from my cameraphone, but they are all mixed up. When I get the light done I will do some proper MTBR shots with the light and the jig using the other optics.


  7. #7
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    Ohh I have some of those from surplusshed be interested in focal distances
    when you get sorted. Not had chance to try them out yet .

    thats going to be one mean thrower Helmet light I am guessing ???

    and sexy machining. nice and curvy

  8. #8
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    I designed it to be a thrower, with some medium distance from the small optics. The small optics don't focus too well and the medium optics will do the throwing (hopefully).

    These values are what I figured were the best looking, measured from the bottom of a standard 20mm star with an XML mounted - I spent the most time on the 24mm optics which are the best balance between size and throwing power, though there is quite a difference when you step up to the 36mm optic:

    Small 12mm optic - L10017
    7.05mm (could not get a really clear die projection from this one)

    Medium 24mm optic - L10085
    10.37-10.82mm

    Large 36mm optic - L3899
    25.74mm

  9. #9
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    Thanks Huffy Puffy

    Are you going for a Die image or defocused a little

  10. #10
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    The best focused die image I could get was slightly defocused (pic above) on the 24mm, so that is what I am going for. I made a small change in the design during the machining which hopefully won't cause too much of a problem with the focus, but if it does I have an idea on how to fix it.

    The body of the light is on the mill now. Had some problems with centering due to my lack of experience setting up the fixture, I think for the next one I will need to get a better way of center finding so when I flip a piece on the fixture it still lines up properly - any slight difference in zeroing the axis is doubled when the part is flipped for milling the other side.

    For a helmet light this is going to be a bit long since the H6Flex is 1.3" diameter and it is going to be mounted flat. I think for the next one I may try and mount the driver vertically to shorten it up a bit.

  11. #11
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    Here are couple pics of the body being milled, had to do it in 2 steps since it had to be flipped over. This is what I started with:



    The front was milled first, there was an area for setting the stars milled in which may mess with the focus, will see:


    Milling the flip side of it now, this was a problem since I did not have the front properly centered when I cut it, so now the back had to be shifted to match up, not perfect, but hopfully close enough for this one:


  12. #12
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    There is a problem with the alignment of the body with the front of the light so this one goes in the scrap bin (which is getting bigger every time I see it). Could probably fix it, but would rather fix the underlying problem with the alignment and get one that is correct. I have an idea to mill several parts together which will hopefully keep everything lined up. Will post some picks of strike 2 when I get it started.

  13. #13
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    Nice work huffy
    Shame about the centering ruining the body, I get that problem when flipping things that are clamped to the rotary table.
    And if it isn't perfect it either ends up smaller or scrap.
    As your using cnc could you machine a base that has the shape of the body cut out of it, then you can flip it and drop it back in? Would have to be a pretty tight fit.
    What mill are you using and did you cnc it yourself?

  14. #14
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    Thanks Goldigger. Good idea on the mating pocket for aligning the piece, unfortunately I can't do that since the workflow I am going for requires a flat surface on the jig - so I can use the same jig for all the steps. What I ended up doing was to set the jig up with 4 holes to align the piece when flipped, but I did not have perfect alignment of the Jig to the table when I milled the first piece so when the others were made, if they were flipped the error doubled, at least I think that is what occurred. I also think that possibly the base of the jig may have moved just slightly during the process of removing and re-adding the top part (the jig has 2 parts, one fixed to the table and one that is fixed to the work, the parts screw together with pins for alignment).

    I am going to try something new since I have a couple of new toys for my mill. I am installing a tooling plate which, once I get properly aligned (which is quite a bit of work), should allow me to get proper alignment of the jig to the table every time. I also have a laser center finder in the mail which I hope will save me some time with alignment, which is the biggest part of the job.

    The mill is an X3 from Harbor Freight with a CNC Fusion kit (which is worth the money).


  15. #15
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    Dumped the jig and made a new one to go with the fixture plate. Pins are 3/8-16 screws ground down. Will see how well this works tomorrow.


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuffyPuffy View Post
    The best focused die image I could get was slightly defocused (pic above) on the 24mm, so that is what I am going for.
    FWIW: When I light benched the aspherics I had (and that included to 10017), I got nice sharp die images when I had no barrel and allowed any light wider that the lens diameter go its own way. When I trapped all light in a barrel to the lens, I got washed out the grids completely and made a fuzzy aura of between 5 and 10% of the die width around the image essentialy softening the edges and so the cutoff. This increased the apparent brightness a noticebale but not great amount so guessing about 20-30%.

    Bubbles is going ot be awesome.

  17. #17
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    Cool, thanks Brian. I did not test with a barrel around the lens, but that is how it will end up (I did not consider that there would be much difference - doh!). Was thinking of painting the inside of the barrels black if there are weird reflections since I heard that mentioned in another thread.

    I was not able to get a good die projection on the 12mm optics (so am using them for a med spill), but the 24mm ones looked reasonably well between 0.408-0.426" (10.37-10.82mm) from the base of a XML star. I am going with 0.417" on the 24mm and 0.2775" (7.05mm) on the 12mm optic. Do those values come close to the ones you found in your tests?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuffyPuffy View Post
    Cool, thanks Brian. I did not test ... Was thinking of painting the inside of the barrels black ..
    I painted the mounting screws, the soldered leads top pf the MCPCB and barrels black in my first version. I painted none of those wiht the second set of parrels. I awas trying for the smallest die projections I could get in version 1. Discovered that was not needed and figureed i'd take all the light I could get as long as I did not get intolerable rings. I did not. I made one barrle short and let the light into the head around the barrels. An Amber circular ring captures this as side light. Good at night. Barely seen in the day. .YMMV, so I'd suggest a look see before adding the paint.


    Quote Originally Posted by HuffyPuffy View Post
    I was not able to get a good die projection on the 12mm optics (so am using them for a med spill), but the 24mm ones looked reasonably well between 0.408-0.426" (10.37-10.82mm) from the base of a XML star. I am going with 0.417" on the 24mm and 0.2775" (7.05mm) on the 12mm optic. Do those values come close to the ones you found in your tests?
    The 10017 was in the 7-8 mm range. Since I was making adjustable barrels, I did not care overmuch exactly where but the size of the image. Sorry taht isn't more helpful.

  19. #19
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    Brian I was looking around for your adjustable light but could not find it. The amber windows for side spill is a cool idea, I'd like to try some time. I had thought about adding amber LED's and a light channel to give some lighting on the sides, but that was when I was going to make my own driver and could add anything I want. I will just be happy to get a working light out of this first attempt at a milled light body.

  20. #20
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    Huffy Puffy

    when I had a mishap with mine and milled a hole in the body there is enough lumens bouncing around to cover a hole with red or amber epoxy and it will shine brightly no need for extra leds or drivers just a hole or 2 .


    I Hope the MK2 works out for you soon

  21. #21
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    Thanks Troutie, you gave me an idea (still not for this one, but maybe the next). Mill 2 holes/slots in the stock that will make the faceplate prior to the other operations, then fill these holes or slots with amber epoxy. Let it cure fully, and then use that block to mill the rest of it. Not sure if epoxy can take the stress of milling though, or if it would just chip out of the hole during the process.

  22. #22
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    My guess is that little would be left of wide angle light bouncing several times in a barrel before emerging with 10-15% loss each bounce. So troutie's idea should work a charm using that light out each side in a future light for both of us. I see a custom housing in my future helmet light.

    The first version of a helmet light with aspheric lenses is in this thread. I used brass tubes that nested to make adjustable barrel lengths to get the dice projected as I wanted. It would not tolerate a helmet hit though.

    So I rebuilt it and it is here. The mid distance lens barrel is about 1 mm shy of catching all output from that LED and that light bouces around betweent he barrels and the polished interior surface of the Marwi housing and comes out as a ring just beyond the bezzle. The amber hood catches this admirably at night or low light. It does not show well in the day. It would be al lot brighter if it was the light from all three LEDs at low angle and I had side lenses just forward of the LEDs. However, I can just turn my head and let the driver get the full power of this light in flash mode. Seems to work well. Anyone so treated made me think they had not seen me and it seems they either had not, or recognized they were acting as if they had not. In the day it doesn't ruin night vision, so no harm, no foul.
    Last edited by BrianMc; 06-01-2011 at 05:42 PM.

  23. #23
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    Thanks Brian, I like the second version with the illuminated hood. I am definitely gonna try that, it is a cool effect.

    After building 2/3's of 2 lights, I am thinking a re-design is in order. The problem I am having are the though holes which need to be perfect or close since they not only hold the damn thing together, but they allow me to get it placed on the fixture properly. So far the holes have been close, but not quite right. I have however learned a thing or two about drilling straight holes, mostly how not to do it. My plan now is to get rid of the though holes which are a roll of the dice anyway, and only use shorter holes. The housing is a bit long for a helmet light too so I am gonna try and either shorten the housing or flatten it.

  24. #24
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    A bit more progress in the past few days. I decided to mostly scrap the original design with 3 parts, since it had the long center section which was making it difficult to align the holes. I went with a 2 part design with a front cover and a back cover. This will make the holes much shorter and so far it seems to be working out OK.











    All that is left is to mill the front, clean them up and run it though the tumbler, that may need to wait till next week though.

  25. #25
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    Very nice Huffy. Glad to here the machining aspect is producing the result you are after. I do like 2 piece lights. Easy to machine and assemble.

    Just as a side note I notice you have a vacuum cleaner to remove the swarf. Although I do have an air compressor I quite oftern use a poor mans compressor in the shed to blow the swarf away from the cutting tool. Costs about $25 and can be bought from any camping store. It is one or these http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000E176W/...SIN=B0000E176W. Once the fine nozzle is fitted the air output is excellent and produces very little noise so no disturbing anyone and greatly improves the surface finish.

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