help with DIY flashlight mod- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    74

    help with DIY flashlight mod

    I've reading the forums for a little while and i find the modified flashlight designs pretty interesting.

    I was thinking of trying to modify my first flashlight for off road use and was wondering what some of the better choices might be.

    I need something that is bright, I was thinking of something with a ssc p7 or cree mc-e emitter, and since it's my first diy light i'm thinking of just chopping it down an adding an external battery pack.

    I have basic electrical skills and standard tools (i.e. no lathe or anything fancy) and looking for suggestions on emitter types and what type of beam pattern i should be looking for.

    all help is appreciated

    thanks!

  2. #2
    aka RossC
    Reputation: ocean breathes salty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    936
    I haven't done any flashlight mods myself but from what i have observed:

    1. DX MCE torches seem to have a tighter beam than p7. P7 on bars and MCE on helemet?
    2. Most people who complete one of these builds come to the conclusion that it would have been easier to start from scratch as the cheap drivers come in the torches don't seem to last too long.
    3. It is possible to get a really neat and professional looking final product if you use some careful forethought.
    4. Turboferret has a dummy cell option to allow you to run an external pack which would give you increase run times without much cutting.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    74
    Thanks for the reply OBS,

    That opens another can of worms for me then.

    Are flashlight bodies good options for a nice looking housing, or does their size/shape and the reflectors that fit into the bodies not lend themselves well for mtb type lights, or would I be better off trying a dinotte style light for my first attempt?

    I'm thinking a single led set up per light(nothing too fancy for the first try) would work if I had one on the bars and one on my helmet.

    does an MC-E have better throw than a p7 driver even though the p7 seems to be brighter (~700 vs. ~900 lumens).

    sorry for all the questions, bear with me I am a noob .

    I appreciate any feedback and thanks in advance!

  4. #4
    aka RossC
    Reputation: ocean breathes salty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    936
    Quote Originally Posted by GVSS
    Are flashlight bodies good options for a nice looking housing, or does their size/shape and the reflectors that fit into the bodies not lend themselves well for mtb type lights, or would I be better off trying a dinotte style light for my first attempt?
    I went searching for ages trying to find a DIY thread that had a really well executed conversion that looked almost factory. It was quite a while ago so I couldn't find it unfortunately. The reflector size is really the only thing against them as it makes for a tall light when on the helmet that has the potential to snag on branches etc.

    The one other drawback to torches is the driver programming. They are generally designed to be torches so have lo-high-flash-SOS-off programming (or some derivation of same). So if you are on high and want to switch to low, you have to cycle through the flashing modes and the off mode before you can get back to low again. Not exactly bicycle friendly. Double check any torches you purchase as to what the exact cycle will be.

    Have you considered buying a torch and not modify it at all? Heaps of guys are using torches with rubber dinotte style mounts to hold them to the bars and helmet and just carry a couple of spare 18650's in their bag.

    does an MC-E have better throw than a p7 driver even though the p7 seems to be brighter (~700 vs. ~900 lumens).
    The lumen claims for DX torches are optimistic to say the least. I think you would find that most MCE and P7 torches from DX would come in at a "real" 500-600 lumens. In the real world, there probably isn't much to pick between them although the MCE has a slightly smaller apparent die size which should enable it to produce a tighter beam for a given refelctor size.

    DIY dinotte is extremely simple, and it is the road more travelled so there are lots of people here with advice on it. I pretty much use a modified dinotte template and have had great results. There are also lots of newer builds with MCE's in a dinotte style body that seem to do OK provided adequate thermal pathways are maintained.

    Having said that.... sometimes the road less travelled can be more interesting.

    I don't know whether any of that helps at all

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: HuffyPuffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    890
    I think this may be the one Ocean was looking for (searched for "factory look"):

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.ph...t=factory+look

    What is your budget for the light? If you go the DIY route it will be more expensive the first time if you need to get tools....

    Once you do the first one, you will be hooked, and wondering what else you can use those new tools/skills for. After the second or third light you will look back and think, what a waste, if I had only done/used _____. Now this is where the addiction paths diverge, some - the lucky ones - decide to use what they have created (since it is cheaper and probably better than what they could buy) and wait for the next big thing in LED's which may come, just as their addiction looses hold. While others, dive headlong into building. Some of these unfortunate souls even go out and purchase expensive and/or large tools, and vast quantities of supplies in the quest for the illusive perfect light. These "perfect lights", when achieved, are quickly eclipsed by someone else's "perfect light". As you can see, this is a never-ending cycle from which few escape - "lumen madness" as it has become known. Que the rainbow - "the more you know"...

    What I am trying to say is that cheap DX light conversions are a gateway light project.

    It may be best just to strap a DX P7 or MCE to the bars like Ocean suggested, those will work pretty darn good, and cheaper in the long run. Or get the new DX P7 light and tinker with it - or modify a light like the one in the link.

    If you don't mind the expense, loss of personal relationships, and downward spiral that can result from "lumen madness", go ahead and make a step into building (don't blame me, I warned you). I suggest following one of the proven designs for the first one though - here are some links, since I am *very* bored right now:

    Dinotte style MCE (good idea, unfortunate end)
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=483945

    Dinnote style (main thread)
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=368896

    Easy DIY (original thread)
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=407160

    My DIY Easy light (toot toot)
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=442963

    Achesalot (some have said the best darn light building guide, there is a heck of a lot of info there):
    http://bikeled.com/

    There is also a new P7 light from DX which looks neat:
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=527707

    One more thought, be careful with the battery packs, especially the cheap-o DX ones like the one with the DX P7 bike light - I suggest never charging unattended, and it would be a good idea to pick up a surplus ammo box to charge stuff in.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    aka RossC
    Reputation: ocean breathes salty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    936
    Quote Originally Posted by HuffyPuffy
    I think this may be the one Ocean was looking for (searched for "factory look"):

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.ph...t=factory+look
    Bah!!!!! There it is!!!!

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: HuffyPuffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    890
    Quote Originally Posted by ocean breathes salty
    Bah!!!!! There it is!!!!
    Hehe, when you said it "looked almost factory", I figured that must be the one you were referring to

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    74
    Thanks for all the feedback guys!

    It sounds like I still have a lot of thinking to do.

    Originally Posted by ocean breathes salty
    The one other drawback to torches is the driver programming. They are generally designed to be torches so have lo-high-flash-SOS-off programming (or some derivation of same).
    that shouldn't be too much of a problem for me because I have only really been looking at two mode (hi/low/off) type lights.

    Originally Posted by ocean breathes salty
    There are also lots of newer builds with MCE's in a dinotte style body that seem to do OK provided adequate thermal pathways are maintained.
    does that mean milling heat sink grooves into aluminum tubing and such? I have limited tools to work with. I have access to a table saw, drill press, bench grinder and other common tools, but nothing that is too fancy.

    Originally Posted by HuffyPuffy
    some - the lucky ones - decide to use what they have created (since it is cheaper and probably better than what they could buy) and wait for the next big thing in LED's which may come, just as their addiction looses hold. While others, dive headlong into building.
    I would probably fall into the category of using what I have built as long as it suited my needs and provided enough light. I'm not expecting to make anything that is "perfect" just something that looks pretty good and is functional.


    Here are some of the MC-E torches I have been looking at

    http://dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16958
    http://dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.17098
    http://dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.17092

    Here are some of the P7 torches I have been considering

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19113
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19767
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15739

    Any thoughts are appreciated.

    If i do make/mod a light, I will probably just make one to begin with. Would you guys suggest a P7, MC-E, or something other than those two?

    thanks again for the help!

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: tiny68300's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    23

    You have all the tools you need

    Here is my dinotte style dual mce with Ledil Iris optics - I used 1.5" inside diameter alum. tube, plus 1.5" solid rod for the slugs to mount the stars on. ( from onlinemetals.com ) Way simple. With two DX stars, a maxflex driver, and optics from Cutter electronics, I spent under $100 US.

    completed mce and iris head.jpg

    As far as tools, I have much the same as you, and they were all I needed. No milling, no CNC, just drill press and chop saw. My shop is all woodworking, which is decently adaptable to aluminum w/o trouble.
    I know a lot about cars. I can look at a car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming.
    Mitch Hedberg

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    270
    I wouldn't use any of them. 2 reasons: 1. MC-E bin K, which is not so bright as bin M; 2. 2-mode torches use simple resistors to switch modes. I have Aurora AK-P7-4 HA-III SSC P7-C 2-Mode and it's bright, but too much spill with a donut in the center.

  11. #11
    aka RossC
    Reputation: ocean breathes salty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    936
    Quote Originally Posted by GVSS
    does that mean milling heat sink grooves into aluminum tubing and such? I have limited tools to work with. I have access to a table saw, drill press, bench grinder and other common tools, but nothing that is too fancy.

    I was more thinking a decent slug of Al that completely contacts the inner diameter of a dinotte and possibly an RC car heat sink AA'd to the outside. It seems to give enough cooling for quite a few builds that are using MCE's.

    You could probably "mill" some nice fins using the table saw if you are careful.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    74
    Originally Posted by ocean breathes salty
    I was more thinking a decent slug of Al that completely contacts the inner diameter of a dinotte and possibly an RC car heat sink AA'd to the outside. It seems to give enough cooling for quite a few builds that are using MCE's.
    That is actually a pretty good idea, I do recall seeing a few builds around the forums that had R/C car heat sinks.

    Can aluminum tubing and solid aluminum stock be found at hardware stores like Lowe's and Home Depot? (in the states of course)

    Also, how can one go about making a 2 mode light (high/low/off)? Do you have to wire multiple drivers, and if so, what types of drivers would I need?

    And to make things more complicated I stumbled across this today http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=530752

    These seem to make a pretty good body for a diy light and they are pretty cheap and come with bike mounts, which to me is a plus as it seems many people on these forums use the marwi mounts, what do you guys think?

    again thanks for all of the input

    -Matt

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: tiny68300's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    23

    Marwi lights

    Depending on your optics, the Marwi lights might be a great housing. The MR11 bulb is 36mm diameter, about 35mm long, so a combo of LED and optic that will fit should work.

    As an aside, if you are doing an MCE light, I truly advise using the IRIS optic. It is too big to fit the Marwi without some modification, but IMHO it is by far the best MCE optic available. I have tried many ledil optics and many reflectors. The IRIS gives an even, consistent beam pattern with zero donut holes.

    As far as aluminum tubing and such, Lowes has a decent selection of tubing, but at least here the solid rod selection is poor, which is why I ordered online. In truth, it wasn't any more expensive than Lowes, and a lot better quality. Onlinemetals.com will even cut everything to length for you.
    I know a lot about cars. I can look at a car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming.
    Mitch Hedberg

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: HuffyPuffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    890
    Hi GVSS, My post was mostly in Jest, building lights really can be a fun hobby and it was a good means for me to learn some new stuff. So far I have not lost any friends building lights, but I have met a few interested and interesting people because of it, people are always interested in saving some money and want to know what they cost to build. These lights do take a chunk of time, but only as much as allowed and at the end, work or fail, knowledge is gained. I hope you are not deterred from doing a DIY light - Troutie made some amazing fully custom light bodies with pretty basic tools like you have, you don't need a mill or fancy CNC machines if you are careful (though appears to help ).

    Also thanks for pointing out those Marwi housings, they look like a steal - worst case they would make a nice Halogen. If I needed another light project I would go for that, though that does look tricky to make a heatsink for it without a lathe - not impossible though.

    Sorry that I really don't know much about the DX lights since I do not have any of the ones listed, but what I do know about DX lights is this:

    I read the user reviews and messages to glean some info from them, usually problems are due to poor heat management, crazy, useless or cumbersome driver modes or inefficient drivers. Also DX's supplies will sometimes change stuff (usually for the worse) and not tell them, so folks can get stuff substantially different that what the thought they were ordering (also a good idea to weight recent posts or reviews higher for that reason).

    Kind'a surprised there were no comments on the "gateway" light project comment, maybe I should have used quotes, or maybe it was just funny to me, I suffer from "lumen madness" anyway

    Here is another source for aluminum tubes/roundbar/plate/whatever - I usually get the 6061 stuff:
    http://www.speedymetals.com/

    Pretty comparable to onlinemetals it seems. It would be cool if there was a good source for metric stuff though, with an online ordering system like online/speedymetals.

Members who have read this thread: 0

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.