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  1. #1
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    Solarstorm XT30 / XT40 - anyone?

    These were mentioned briefly in another conversation, but I don't seem to find detailed information about either one. Is there a specific reason? Too new (it says released Sept 2013 there), too boring, or what is wrong with them? Could they be any better than many of the other 3/4/xx cheap lightheads ?
    Featurewise, they seem to be ok, three usable modes, hidden strobe, temperature control, meaningful battery indication,... ?

    Anybody can shed some light to it ?

    Solarstorm XT30 2200 lumen 3 led colorful light bicycle light set, View bicycle light, Solarstorm Product Details from Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

    Solarstorm XT40 2800 lumen 4 led colorful light round bicycle light set, View bicycle light, Solarstorm Product Details from Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

    Assuming I'd have another decent battery with enough capacity, whould there be a downside of taking the 4 LED one vs. the 3 LED? Heat comes to my mind, but is that an issue, or more a 'keep in mind' item?

    luigi

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by luigi4711 View Post
    These were mentioned briefly in another conversation, but I don't seem to find detailed information about either one. Is there a specific reason? Too new (it says released Sept 2013 there), too boring, or what is wrong with them? Could they be any better than many of the other 3/4/xx cheap lightheads ?
    Featurewise, they seem to be ok, three usable modes, hidden strobe, temperature control, meaningful battery indication,... ?

    Anybody can shed some light to it ?

    Solarstorm XT30 2200 lumen 3 led colorful light bicycle light set, View bicycle light, Solarstorm Product Details from Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

    Solarstorm XT40 2800 lumen 4 led colorful light round bicycle light set, View bicycle light, Solarstorm Product Details from Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

    Assuming I'd have another decent battery with enough capacity, whould there be a downside of taking the 4 LED one vs. the 3 LED? Heat comes to my mind, but is that an issue, or more a 'keep in mind' item?

    luigi
    I'm wondering the same thing. From reading threads on the other triple and quad XML lights, the triple and quad models can be a crapshoot due to poor thermal management and/or bad UI's.

    These have a lot going for them- a good UI (L-M-H, hidden strobe), power indicator, and overheat protection. ("XT40 owns Temperature control system to support healthy working and protect itself, when the inner temperature is higher than 70 degree on high, mode will automatically change into Middle.")

    If these have decent thermal management, and you pair them with a 4 or 6 cell battery pack with Samsung or Panasonic cells, perhaps they could be viable poor man's alternatives to the Gemini Olympia and Lupine Wilma 7.

    There are similar models sold by DX as the Nitefire NFC-41 and NFC-31.

    These have threaded lockring type battery connectors, I'm not sure if these are compatible with standard Magicshine connectors.

  3. #3
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    I have a XT40 on it's way to me, but will likely be another few weeks before I can tell if it's any good or bad.

  4. #4
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    Keep us updated!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by luigi4711 View Post
    I have a XT40 on it's way to me, but will likely be another few weeks before I can tell if it's any good or bad.
    Total lumen output will depend on what driver is being used and how well the lamp can handle the heat. I figure you will at least get somewhere around 1500-1800 lumen on high BUT, like I said...depends. As with all lamps this size I would make plans on finding a way to make it sit more stable on the bars. The O-ring system doesn't really work well on lamps this size.

    How much did you pay for the set-up?

  6. #6
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    I looked at those links and thought "those aren't real solarstorms". Clicking around the page made we wonder though. I think the "Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology Co" based in Guangdong China may be the actual manufacturer of the original Solarstorm X2 light. Particularly interesting is the number of lights they can produce a month.
    X2: 1000 pieces per month
    X3: 10000 pieces per month

    That's a lot of lights! I'm looking forward to their new stuff.

  7. #7
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    For mounting on the bar, I have already a Sigma mount waiting.
    I'm not new to electronics, so will investigate the driver and current it uses, if necessary might replace it with something else.
    Paid 59$ for the set on wallbuys with a promotion code. Recognized it's now also available at K/D for 58$ (?) but I didn't find it there back then when I ordered.

    Have two RC 2s LiPo batteries with 5200mAh each here which I am using at the moment for an old Halogen based light, so will not depend on the battery in the set (if it's crap, it will end up in the trash)

    fwiw... I have a Yinding ordered as well, so this might serve as a comparison then.

  8. #8
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    The XT40 just arrived. Took it off the hands from the postman and apart

    No seriously, just a quick first impression, outdoor pictures will need some time.
    Looks like decent quality, not perfect, but (if it lasts) certainly worth the money.
    Opening it, I found that there seems to be an aluminium plate in the middle, where the four LED pills are mounted to (see first picture below). That plate has only four, rather small places (the little black edges), where it connects with the outer body. These have thermal paste applied though.
    So unlike the Yinding, which is one piece of aluminium, heat transfer might not be ideal here. On the other hand, the outer case gets hot quite quickly, so it isn't entirely bad either.
    Since there is plenty of space remaining, one could easily fill everything around the central plate and the LED pills with thermal compound.

    Regarding build quality.. I couldn't open the front since two of the four screws seem to have their heads damaged. So until I find some replacement screws, I'm not going to open the front side.


    Power draw from a freshly charged LiPo battery, 8.4V 5.4Ah (not the one included):
    Low ~700mA
    Med ~1.5A
    High ~3A

    However these numbers above are when you just switch it on. Over a few minutes time these increase, I assume since the whole thing heats up and the LEDs change there operation point (don't know how to better say that in english).
    On high I have seen it go to 3.8A when I switched it off, because the case was real hot and I had no ventilation to cool it.

    Anybody can comment if that is a common behaviour, or suggests a rather bad driver design that can not keep current at a constant level?

    Beam has a noticable bright spot in the middle and the outer area gradually fading off. Real beamshots will take a while until I find time to do.

    Here are pictures of the inside from the back, I'll save you picture from the outside and the package content, that's the usual stuff. Maybe worth noting that it has the screwed connector between head and battery.

    Solarstorm XT30 / XT40 - anyone?-xt40_1.jpg
    Solarstorm XT30 / XT40 - anyone?-xt40_2.jpg

    And I certainly read the manual carefully... before taking it apart ;-)
    Solarstorm XT30 / XT40 - anyone?-xt40_3.jpg


    The original battery pack is connected to my charger at the moment (not the included one) to see what it's worth.

    Again I'd be curious to have someone comment on the crreping current phenomenon.

  9. #9
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    A few more observiations and two more pics...

    The current draw indeed seems to depend on the LED temperature. I took some measurements last night (still indoor, with room temp ~22C).

    When leaving the light on high, this time providing constant cooling from a fan, the current started at 3A and rose until 3.7A within ~2mins. [Voltage was around 8V from a good LiPo battery]. It did not go any further as long as I provided cooling. With an IR temp I measured ~50C on the backside of the LED PCB (had removed the lights backplate to measure it). At the same time the housing had an outer temp of ~41C.

    So as long as you don't overheat (means: don't leave it running on high without cooling), the current seems to stay in a good range.

    Then I removed the fan, the temperature rose and with it the current. When the PCB had 65C (and the outer case 55C), it took already ~4A of current. This is when I stopped this experminent, since I didn't want to fry the LEDs. The lights description said it has an overheat protection, but that must then kick in only at higer temperatures (or has not kicked in here, since I had the backplate still removed to measure the temp on the LED PCB backside). May leave that for someone else to try (fry).

    There was a fairly constant difference of about 10C between the LED PCB and the outer case. I think it demonstrates that in principle the heat sink is working, but there is room for improvement.

    Having seen light shinning through at the backside of the PCB, I got curious what it looks like from the front, so went ahead and openend it.

    Solarstorm XT30 / XT40 - anyone?-xt40_4.jpg
    Solarstorm XT30 / XT40 - anyone?-xt40_5.jpg

    After removing the front plastic, with some black rubber mat behind it, that has the four smaller openings for each LED, it offered four massive aluminium reflectors. Not pretty from the outside, but the inner reflector being quite fine. Behind those, the four LEDs all sit on one PCB, which is directly attached to these four edges on the housing one can see from locking into the back. So I guess heat transfer is as good as it can be under these circumstances, but could be improved if there was more contact of this PCB with the outer shell. The PCB has a diameter of ~37mm.

    Sidenote: You can't see on the PCB how the LEDs are arranged, but from measuring voltage on the two cables going to it with ~6.25V on high, the LEDs must be in a 2S2P mode on this PCB.

    The three LED 'power indicator' on the back seems to work ok (still need to get a good reading of the individual votage levels it shows), but there does not seem to be a hard low voltage cut off. Still to be determined with a real test drive, but as the voltage fell below ~6.6V, you could see the LEDs starting to dim (driver going out of regulation I guess you call that). On my power supply I went down as far as 5V when the light was then only drawing ~60mA on high, with the LEDs still on but very dim. Might warrant a note of caution, don't leave it accidentially switched on, since it may deep discharge your battery.

    Will still take some time until I can take this one outdoor... but I like to dissect things first, to know what I got

    All in all, I am still pretty satisfied with the light so far - from having looked at it on the working bench... may add more after a test ride. Does not seem as bad as some other cheap crap being sold out there. And I can live with the few imperfections so far.

    PS: The mount you see on the pictures above is not the original one. It's a Sigma mount I slightly modified to fit on this light.
    Sigma Ersatzhalterung fr Karma / Karma Evo / Powerled Evo / Quadro - Bike-Components

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by luigi4711 View Post
    That plate has only four, rather small places (the little black edges), where it connects with the outer body.
    Quite bad design. Seems that the case was intended for some different internals...

    Thanks for sharing!

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    It does look pretty awful from the heat removal perspective. Sounds like something isn't right with the driver either. Thanks for the detailed pictures. I would probably stay away from this light based on what you have posted. If you add some thermal paste or glue maybe it will work for you for a little while. There does appear to be a large gap there, but I can't quite tell what's going on in the pictures. I can't tell if the led board is resting on some sort of lip or if it's just hanging there.

    Nice detective work!

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    This blue piece behind the driver board is a single piece of rubber, that is also providing cover for the clicky switch on the backside, plus waterproofing the backplate. The driver board itself fits into the case quite nicely, so it's not falling around. Between the driver and the LED PCB, there is plenty of free space, which may allow for additional heat spreading improvements.
    Does anyone have suggestions for good thermal epoxy or something similar?

  13. #13
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    It is interesting that it eats nearly 4A - the leds might go very hot if they are driven that hard.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK96 View Post
    It is interesting that it eats nearly 4A - the leds might go very hot if they are driven that hard.
    I assume that 4A is from the battery, which is a 2S2P configuration so 8.4 volts at 4 amps is not that much really. Probably each LED is driven at 2 amps or less. There could be an issue with the battery pack cabling at that amperage though... most of the Chinese light battery pack cabling is quite thin... 26AWG or 24AWG... neither is really thick enough for 4 amps of current, so there will be a lot of voltage drop and power wasted as heat in the cabling.

  15. #15
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    If the voltage sagged to ~4.6V then it is obvious due to cheap cell pack, but if not, it still draws some decent power - 8V * 4A = 32W

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    Boost and buck drivers increase current as voltage depletes, which is great as it regulates the lumens a lot better and maintains performance. Sounds like this driver just takes a while to ramp up initially, and increases current as the voltage of the batteries decrease like any normal boost/buck driver.

    Adding thermal paste is a poor solution, the reality is, while thermal paste will improve thermal transfer, it isn't that much better than air. You should be using as little paste as possible and as it should only be used to fill in minute air pockets, the smallest of drops under a led star is all that should be used. Any design that requires thermal improvement is a poor design. The properties of thermal paste have been grossly over-estimated.

  17. #17
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    I'm really disappointed to see the insides of this light after being impressed with the X2 (before the clones started skimping on proper pills and the like). I just don't see any justification for such a poorly though out thermal path... does it make manufacturing easier or save significant money? A bit of a puzzle what happened with this one given SolarStorm's previously good designs.

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    Small update: On the first ride, after initially impressing the others (having single XMLs as the brightest lights in the group), it went dark after just five minutes. Luckily I had the Yinding on the helmet, which was plenty of light to finish the ride (2hs), even on medium. When coming back home I opened the XT40 to find one of the two cables going to the LED PCB loose from a bad soldering at the driver board. Easily fixed in 2mins, but another point to maybe not recommend this light to someone who is not willing to open it and have some tooling handy.
    Might be able to take it to another ride this week, let's see how it will perform then...

  19. #19
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    The body seems to be made for another type of led attachment. Does it get somehow hot when powered on full? The minus wire seems to be a cold solder join if that was one that loose. Good old china stuff, all of them you need to open and check them

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    As mentioned in the second detailed posting (#9), I did test it with a fan on the workbench. On high, the outer case got to ~40C, when in the inside, the backside of the aluminium LED plate seemed to be ~50C. It seems to keep this ~10C delta between the LED plate and the outer case.
    So yes, heat is taken to the outside, it warms up pretty quick, but the difference also confirms that things could be better.

    I do have epoxy and aluminium powder here. Maybe I will give it a try to improve the thermal path. But time is short at the moment... that's likely not any time soon.

    PS: Given last time I was fine with just running the Yinding (2xXML) on medium on the helmet, I likely won't be running this one on all-time high for the ride anyhow...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by whokilledJR View Post
    Boost and buck drivers increase current as voltage depletes, which is great as it regulates the lumens a lot better and maintains performance. Sounds like this driver just takes a while to ramp up initially, and increases current as the voltage of the batteries decrease like any normal boost/buck driver.

    Adding thermal paste is a poor solution, the reality is, while thermal paste will improve thermal transfer, it isn't that much better than air. You should be using as little paste as possible and as it should only be used to fill in minute air pockets, the smallest of drops under a led star is all that should be used. Any design that requires thermal improvement is a poor design. The properties of thermal paste have been grossly over-estimated.
    Thanks WKJR for your post. Everything you said, absolutely true. People who think they can fix major thermal issues by using gobs of thermal paste fail to understand what thermal paste does and how it is properly used.

    While I agree the design on these XT-30/40 lamps could be better they at least look better than the SSX2 clones. My main concern is the beam pattern. While I'm sure the lamp is very bright ( ~1800-2000 lumen ? ) I don't think I would like the beam pattern. I say this because like the other lamps I see using the same mini-reflectors, all the light is "likely" thrown forward. Not enough light to the sides. If these lamps came with optics ( like the Duo clones ) there would be more side spill. Not to mention there might be other optics available to dial the beam pattern in you want. Two 10 and two 15-20 optics might give you a really nice beam pattern for the bars. Sure would be nice if someone would sell a mini-version of the flood lenses used on the MS clones.

    If the Chinese are reading these reviews they need to take them to heart. Some of the needed improvements would be real easy to implement and really not cost that much money ( if any at all )

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    what mount are you using?

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