Z57 Tailcap Shroud

February 21st, 2006

A CPFer from Japan noticed that a replacement for the Z57 tailcap retaining ring could easily be fabricated. The stock retaining ring sits flush with the main body of the tailcap, but by making one that extends out further, you get a nice shroud to both reduce accidental activation and to enable tail-standing candle-mode.

He posted some pictures of a one-off part he made in brass [qv] and CPF went nuts. Eventually he did a small run of these in Derlin (a nylon resin which turns very easily in a lathe) and I grabbed one. It’s a hell of a mod considering it only takes 30 seconds to install.

L4 with Shrouded Z57 Closeup of Z57 with Delrin Shroud

When I finally break down and get the lathe, the first thing I’m going to do is turn a few of these in brass.

Titanium Strike Bezel for Aleph 2

February 10th, 2006

Today, I received a special package from Don. Inside was a replacement bezel ring for my chrome Aleph 2 [2004.12.04]. This isn’t just any bezel ring, though; it’s Titanium with a scalloped face.

Aleph 2 Scalloped Titanium (L) and Stock Chrome Aluminum (R) Bezel Rings Aleph 2 in Chrome with Scalloped Titanium Bezel Ring

This allows the user to see if the power is still on when the light is set head-down on a table, and also gives it a little more “bite” when used as an impact “tool” (though nothing like the TID or the Porcupine).

Detail of Scalloped Titanium Bezel Ring on Aleph 2

Surefire M3T

September 17th, 2005

After tinkering with hundreds of E-series and C-series Surefires, I finally got a “big” Surefire, a M3 with the Turbohead. I was in a good mood, so I splurged and got the SW02 tailcap to go with it. I’ve actually been planning on getting one of these for a while, and I bought a couple of machined modules from Ryoichi Kato [qv] about a year ago, but never got around to building them out.

M3T vs. Mag 2C

I built this particular module with a W-binned Luxeon V and a Downboy driver set to 833ma. The module assembly is pretty straightforward, and is very similar to the McCapsule assembly process. The only significant difference is threading the lead wires through the top of the module. This took a bit of patience and some tedious work with a dental pick. Finer wire would have helped, but you go to war with the army that you have.

Once completed, the module drops right in without any modification to the light itself.

  Lamp Module in Turbohead

This is by far the tightest Luxeon V setup I’ve yet seen. The hotspot seems slightly tigheter than my hotwire Mag 2C with KPR112 bulb, which is a throw monster. Overall, it’s an impressive package, though it’s a pretty expensive one.

Snake-Catcher Screwdriver

February 3rd, 2005

Don describes a modified “snake catcher” screwdriver in his light engine build notes [qv]. A small notch in the blade of the screwdriver allows one to wrange the wire into position, then hold it in place for soldering. I took a standard (non-reinforced) Dremel cut-off wheel and sliced a notch in a cheapo flatblade precision screwdriver. However, the resulting notch was too wide and would not securely hold the lead wires.

I figured a diamond wheel might work better, since they are considerably thinner than the standard cut-off wheels. However, a single genuine Dremel diamond wheel runs about $15. I found a five-pack of knock-off Chinese diamond wheels for $10 at Harbor Freight, and it even included a mandrel. The quality of these wheels is more than good enough for my purposes. The diamond wheel is about half the thickness of the standard cut-off wheel (o.5mm vs. 1.0mm), which was just about perfect.

Comparison of cut-off wheel and diamond wheel Closeup of modified screwdrivers Detail of screwdriver holding lead wire

Luxeon Clone

January 9th, 2005

Today I received some samples of a new Chinese-made clone of the Lumileds Luxeon LED.

Luxeon Clones

The clones are easy to identify when they are mounted on the star heatsinks, as the solder pads are flatter, the heat sink itself is a much lighter metal, and there is no binning or model number marking on the back, but the emitters themselves are almost perfect copies. The only significant difference I could see was in lens clairity - and even then, I needed a 10x loupe to see the difference.

Closeup of Genuine Luxeon Closeup of Luxeon Clone

Genuine Luxeon (left) and Clone (right)

I think the lens fogginess is caused by surface defects and could probably be polished away. The clone also seems to have more “fuzz” around the edge of the lens, and this could be related to the poor polish of the lens. Everything else seems to be indistinguishable, even the phosphor layer, which I expected would be the weak link in the clones.

Initial informal testing was impressive. To my eye, color and brightness of the bare clone emitters are on a par with some TX0J Luxeon III emitters I have on my bench. I will have to conduct further tests with some optics and reflectors, which generally makes it easier to pick out differences in color.

My initial feeling is that even if these do perform well, I will probably not use them in any flashlights, since the $9 savings ($7 for a clone vs $16 for a good-binned Luxeon III) isn’t a significant enough amount in a $200 flashlight to make up for the unknowns in binning and long-term reliability. For projects needing a large number of emitters, though, these might be more than acceptable.

Chrome Aleph

December 4th, 2004

I just got some Aleph parts plated in nickel-chrome from KJ. The finish is perfect, and gives the pieces the cold feel of good tools. It’s very difficult to caputre the shininess in a photograph.

Chrome Aleph 2 Chrome Aleph 2 with 1x123 Body and Flat-Top Switch

I got both the standard and newer flat-top tailcaps:

Chrome Tailcaps

Modified Surefire L1 Head

November 6th, 2004

The Surefire L1 has all driver circuitry in the body of the flashlight, while the head is “dumb,” containing just the Luxeon and a simple battery contact. Removing the battery contact from the head is pretty simple. Once the bezel ring is removed, the NX-05 optic falls out, and the two lead wires can be desoldered. Once the lead wires are free, feeding them through the heatsink will release the battery contact from the bottom.

I planned on installing a Nexgen boost driver using an Ecan from the McLux project, but the Ecan is slightly too tall to fit properly in the L1 head. Removing a bit of material from both the top and bottom of the Ecan on a lathe is all that’s needed to adapt it to the tighter diminsions of the L1 head, though.

Modified L1 Head Compared to Stock L1 Head

Of course, while I had it opened up I replaced the stock NX-05 optic with a more refined IMS SO17XA reflector.

The L1 head is the smallest head that Surefire makes - far smaller than either the E1e head or the KL1, and it makes a very pocketable light cannon when combined with the E1e body.

L1 Head on E1e Body L1/E1e vs. Aleph 2/1x123