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  1. #1
    I spelled Knievel wrong
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    Cygolite Tridenx MC-E (Pic Heavy!!!)

    A fellow MTBR member sent me his Cygolite Tridenx to see if I could do anything to give it a little bump in output. He's got a few Turbocats modded with Cutter Triple XR-E kits and his stock Tridenx was getting blown away by the DIY stuff. The night after his light arrived in my mailbox I took it outside to compare with my triple R2 helmet light and sure enough the Tridenx wasn't nearly as bright and had a nasty bluish color to it. I did notice that the size, weight and quality seemed pretty nice, and I really liked the user interface with 4 levels and multiple flashing modes. My favorite part about the light is the unique configuration Cygolite uses to produce a nice elliptical beam pattern with standard optics. The center LED faces straight forward while the two outer LEDs are aimed inwards as a slight angle, pretty slick!



    I disassembled the housing by removing the 4 small phillips screws that hold the faceplate on. With the faceplate off the plastic optic holder and optics popped right off to reveal 3 Seoul Z-power LEDs wired in series and mounted on 20mm stars. The stars were screwed to a cast aluminum heatsink that also holds the driverboard, switches, and plug, and there was heatsink compound smeared everywhere. Surprisingly, the inner heatsink has minimal contact with the outer cast aluminum housing and while it does transfer some heat away from the LEDs, there is definitely room for improvement in the design. Before I removed the original LEDs, I turned the light on and measured the voltage across the LED string, it measured 10.92V.



    I disconnected the battery, de-soldered the positive and negative leads to the LED string, removed the original LEDs and cleaned up the excessive heatsink compound. Then I soldered up 3 Cree MC-Es so that each MC-E was running with all 4 dies in parallel, and the 3 MC-Es were in series. The MC-Es I used were K bin (370lm @ 350mA/die) and 4A tint (Neutral White, very nice tint for off road!!!). I applied a very thin layer of Arctic Silver thermal compound between the MC-E stars and the heatsink and attached the new LEDs. I double checked my soldering with a multimeter and when I was sure I had things correct I plugged in the battery. The light fired right up, the controls worked perfectly and there were no sparks or magic smoke! Best of all the voltage across the string of MC-Es... 8.70 V! That meant the MC-Es were using ~ 20% less energy than the Seouls at the same level of current! That means better runtime and less heat!

    Once I was confident that the electrical side of the light was good to go I tested the stock optics and optic holder and was surprised to find that everything lined up well with the new LEDs. The holder held the optics at the correct height, not smashing the domes of the MC-Es and not floating above them, but just right! I reassembled the light with the stock optics but, not surprisingly, the beam with the MC-Es was pretty horrible...

    MC-Es with stock optics:


    I've had pretty good luck with modified IMS20 reflectors and MC-Es, so I grabbed some that I had already drilled out and textured to see if they'd fit in this housing. Nowhere close, they were way to tall, so I carefully sanded a few of them down (taking material off the front of the reflector) until I had three that were exactly the right height. Once they were short enough the reflectors fit like they came from the factory! The Tridenx already has a one piece clear plastic front cover which made fitting the reflectors much easier.




    The modified reflectors gave a much better beam pattern than the stock optics with no artifacts and a decent hotspot. The focus is not as tight as the original, but it should be great for a handlebar light. Overall, the light is definitely brighter with the MC-Es than it was with the Seouls, and the tint of the new emitters is massively better than the originals! I realize that some folks don't like the warmer tints but I think they're better in many off road situations, particularly if it's wet or raining. The owner of this light rides in the Pacific NW and has a preference for warmer tints...I think he'll like it!

    Here are the before and after beamshots. The wall is eggshell white. I forgot to take a shot of the original outside, but I'll try to add one oudoors with the new setup tonight.

    Before... Seoul Z-power, stock narrow optics:


    After... MC-E K-bin, 4A tint, heavily modified IMS20 reflectors:


    Outdoor shot, MTBR camera settings


    Overall this is a easy modification and doesn't take any fancy tools. Swapping MC-Es into existing lights is a pretty cost effective way to get better output and runtime without changing any of the electronics. I have a friend who has done this to his NR MiNewt USB and it works very well, I think I may try to find one of those lights and document the swap.
    Last edited by StevelKnivel; 01-30-2009 at 07:23 PM.

  2. #2
    widebody
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    BIG Thanks Steve! Can't wait to try it out on the trails. The tridenx was my light that I used when I had to wait for those Cutter 3up kits to be made or whatever reason they took MONTHS to get last winter. At the time I thought it was and is a nice light. It was delegated to the back up or spare loaner role as your LED turbocat conversions just blew it away. Recently with my buds getting new lights like the L&M Seca my LEDcats were getting a little challenged on the trails. A little friendly competition with lights is fun

    Thanks Again Steve!!

    John

  3. #3
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    So how much would this cost to do to mine too? I live in the Pac NW as well and after this winter is over, I'd love to get you to do that to mine. Mine is a the Ni-HM battery because I wanted the extra run time. The lumen output of those is lower (495 vs 600) although I think when the OP and this one were made, they may have had the same lumen rating and they made a change. I also have a NR USB - so if you really want to try it to one of those, I'm really not happy with mine and I'd like to try that on mine.

    Thanks for the post - very interesting.

    Clayton
    "It looks flexy"

  4. #4
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    Nice outdoor shot.
    But any outdoor shots of your triple R2 helmet light and Tridenx before modification
    for comparison?

  5. #5
    widebody
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vienna1
    Nice outdoor shot.
    But any outdoor shots of your triple R2 helmet light and Tridenx before modification
    for comparison?
    There was a comparison of beam shots including mine(the tridenx stock and two R2 lights, one narrow lens @ 800mah and one medium lens@ 700mah) last year by eddielee70? It's bedtime now and am too sleepy from all the beer tonight to search for those posts right now. The R2 triples are quite a bit brighter both in the pics and in person.

    Sobered up a bit quickly, some pics from last year. DIY LED outdoor beamshots and some factory lights
    Last edited by ssumo; 01-31-2009 at 12:03 AM.

  6. #6
    I spelled Knievel wrong
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vienna1
    Nice outdoor shot.
    But any outdoor shots of your triple R2 helmet light and Tridenx before modification
    for comparison?
    I added the outdoor shot for this light and my R2 helmet light to the sticky beamshot thread.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssumo
    There was a comparison of beam shots including mine(the tridenx stock and two R2 lights, one narrow lens @ 800mah and one medium lens@ 700mah) last year by eddielee70? It's bedtime now and am too sleepy from all the beer tonight to search for those posts right now. The R2 triples are quite a bit brighter both in the pics and in person.

    Sobered up a bit quickly, some pics from last year. DIY LED outdoor beamshots and some factory lights
    I have found.
    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevelKnivel
    I added the outdoor shot for this light and my R2 helmet light to the sticky beamshot thread.
    Do you have outdoor shot of TridenX before mod?

  9. #9
    I spelled Knievel wrong
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    No, sorry. I'll make sure to take an outdoor "before" shot if I mod another Tridenx.

  10. #10
    Spanish biker
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    Great job!!!!

    Greetings - Saludos

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

    Easy DIY led light1
    Easy DIY led light2

    The Beast!!!

  11. #11
    willtsmith_nwi
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    Can this be done by an electrical novice? I would just like to swap my LEDs for something more advanced. I like the optics the way they are.

  12. #12
    Spanish biker
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    Quote Originally Posted by willtsmith_nwi
    Can this be done by an electrical novice? I would just like to swap my LEDs for something more advanced. I like the optics the way they are.
    Hi, yes, you can put done this operation, but with a little of careful with the solders, really it is very easy.

    Greetings - Saludos

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

    Easy DIY led light1
    Easy DIY led light2

    The Beast!!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by willtsmith_nwi
    Can this be done by an electrical novice? I would just like to swap my LEDs for something more advanced. I like the optics the way they are.
    The electrical side is quite simple, if you can solder.

    The optics hower will be the complicated bit because your existing optics will not work at all well with the new LED's.

  14. #14
    willtsmith_nwi
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    Dohh, question answered, 20% more efficient.

  15. #15
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    What about the XPG - think those will fit?
    "It looks flexy"

  16. #16
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    Anyone know if you can drop in the P7 stars like this, or something close?
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12721


    "It looks flexy"

  17. #17
    Do It Yourself
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    Quote Originally Posted by gticlay
    Anyone know if you can drop in the P7 stars like this, or something close?
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12721
    No, this wouldn't be a drop in mod. The problem with the P7 in this application is that it runs all four dies in series and would need twice the current as the above double 2S2P MC-E. This would require a new driver (Hipflex or similar) so more extensive mods. Steve's project was just dropping new MC-E stars into the existing system making it quite easy. Cost is about the same from Cutter.
    Long Live Long Rides

  18. #18
    I spelled Knievel wrong
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    Actually the P7 runs all 4 dies in parallel, which is identical to the way I wired these three MC-Es. Electrically speaking the P7 would be fine but the P7 dome is so much larger than the MC-E dome that it would be almost impossible to find optics that would fit. The best option these days would be Cree XP-Gs, which should work with the stock optics and be almost as efficient as the MC-Es.

  19. #19
    willtsmith_nwi
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    I'm an electrical novice. Where can I buy the MC-Es and associated optics to do the job.

  20. #20
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    Go with the XPG's if it is a first time thing. Much easier to work on.

    You can get the XPG's from Cutter

    www.cutter.com.au

    The MCE's can be had from Cutter, or from ledsupply if you are in the states.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
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    Can you recommend which xpg to buy, and can they be purchased on a star or whatever that plate is called like the ones in this pic?
    "It looks flexy"

  22. #22
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    The r5 is the latest and brightest, but any will be an improvement. The 10mm sq is a square board and is 1mm thinner than all the other boards offered. Any of the boards should work up to a 20mm round or star configuration. The other good thing about the xpg are that the optics are much less demanding. Just make sure if ordering from cutter that you do add a board configuration. You can not solder an xpg by hand without a board(at least I can't)

  23. #23
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    Well, I ordered up some R5 XPG on the 20mm stars. I'm going to try to do the upgrade the same way Steve did with the XPE's. Should be more light though!!
    "It looks flexy"

  24. #24
    I spelled Knievel wrong
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    That should work well. The TridenX has posts to align 20mm stars, the 10mm board would be a PITA. Make sure to check the height of the LED compared to the stock ones. If the stars are thicker or the LEDS are taller you could risk crushing them when you put the optics back on. It should work fine though...

  25. #25
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    OK, so they arrived. The LED's look TINY. Much smaller than the ones you put in. Did I get the correct ones? Do I need to put the jumper wires as you did?
    Thanks!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cygolite Tridenx MC-E (Pic Heavy!!!)-r5led.jpg  

    "It looks flexy"

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