Having been a member of this fantastic forum for over 2 years, I’ve seen a lot of wonderful creations thrown out to the community by the big modders that we all know and love, plus some very impressive offerings from the little guys.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a flashlight modder – but when I think about it, all I ever really do is buy parts from the masters on these forums and put together my own version of the tried and trusted classics – i.e. Mag 85, Space Needle etc etc.
As such I decided that it was high time that I tried to build something new and unique myself – After all… I have access to a machining late, so there should be no excuse.
After some pondering on the format for my project, I decided to have a go at a Bike Light.
I figured it should get some real use - as I’ve just moved to a new apartment which is next to a canal with a dark unlit toe-path which screams out for some real flashaholic illumination solutions.
The toe path is part of the national cycle network and is ideal for bike riding away from the traffic and congestion.
Decided that I wanted to do a multi Luxeon project, my inspiration being, Nightrider's Tri Lux Bike Light and more recently KonradC’s Tri-LuxIII bike light
The latter kicked me into action as I was amazed at how simple it looked plus I felt shamed that such a new member was turning out his own scratch built light and here I was - having done nothing!
Having decided on the format for my project I gave some thought as to how I could add my own little twist to the existing incarnations posted on CPF.
Decided to copy KonradC’s format, but make the flashlight bodies myself out of billet Aluminium.
I want the project to be a bit of a WOW light to the unenlightened out there and really show them what modern LED’s can really do.
As such I wanted:
Hard driven top spec Lux’s - for max output
Hi-Tec HID look
Variable light levels
Quick release handlebar mount (Too many thieves about)
Hard Driven top spec Lux’s:
Want to be able to run each ‘U’ flux luxIII at 1A.
Decided that copper end caps might not be sufficient to heatsink 3 LuxIII’s at an amp – hence decided on my own machined aluminium body.
Everyone else seems to have constructed their bike lights around 20mm reflectors/optics.
I’ve seen one with 30mm optics before, but I’m a reflector fan and I really wanted to try out the much underused IMS27 reflector.
These things throw like mad for their size…So IMS27’s it is.
Hi-Tec HID look:
Well that’s LED’s anyway – (Photonfanatic’s) UWOK’s fit the bill nicely.
Variable light levels:
I needed a light engine capable of running 3 LuxIII’s at 1A.
I didn’t want to incorporate a big clumsy potentiometer in my design.
I wanted simple single button operation.
The solution was obvious George's n-Flex Driver
Had to keep the spiralling costs down, so decided to steer away from Li-Ion – although this would have been my first choice.
Went for a 14.4v pack of 12 x 3700mAh Sub C Ni-Mh cells providing power via the n-Flex to the 3 series connected Lux’s.
Should be good for up to 5hrs runtime.
Quick release handlebar mount:
After much internet searching – I came across these - Lumicycle's Camlock Handlebar Mount
Somewhat subjective one….
I liked KonradC’s format so decided to mount my lux’s in individual circular bodies mounted in a row….Yes I know I’m copying again – but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Still wanted the unit to be reasonably compact yet incorporate the bigger IMS 27’s and the n-Flex board and have good heasinking.
Came up with the design that you will see in the finished product.
I also wanted to do something else which no-one else seems to do on here…..Home Anodising !!
Did plenty of research on the matter and figured that I could cope.
The plan – Anodise the body black and have a silver bezel (Inova style).
Biting off more than I can chew?….We’ll see………..
One major hurdle that has stopped me creating my own flashlight to date has been that my dad’s rickety old – ex-school - metalwork lathe has no thread cutting gear, so making end-caps / bezels has been pretty much ruled out.
My design is such that the bezel will be an interference fit.
The Lux’s will be thermal epoxied into the end of the machined body (Copper end-cap style)
Not very upgrade friendly and once together – a bit final – but once it’s together I don’t plan on taking it apart again anyway.
Realised that I would need to make something to house the rectangular n-Flex board in my round body.
I came up with a nylon ring which the board was a press fit into.
The board would then be sandwiched by another nylon ring to stop it popping out and jiggling about.
So with a plan and a design in mind I set about ordering everything that I needed and began machining.
I probably spent about 2 days at the lathe, messing about with the limited tooling that we have for it, but finally turned out all the planned parts shown in the following pictures.
Next came the home Anodizing:
Found a lump of aluminium in the garage. I machined it off to represent my project bodywork and make a rough calculation of its surface area to calculate my Anodizing current.
The first attempt at Anodising was a flop….The part would not take on any stain.
I concluded that I need I needed MORE POWER.
Threw the calculator away and pulled a figure out of my head.
Instead of the calculated 0.5A for 40 minutes that I gave it the first time around, I gave it 1.3A for 45 mins.
This time – Eureka – It took on the stain…produced a pleasing, shiny Maglite black which by my scientific ‘scratch test’ proved to be pretty hard and durable and should serve to offer some real protection.
Now on to my actual body parts…..
I made a calculated estimation of required current based on my findings and came up with this:
Gave the small parts 1.85A for 60 minutes each
Gave the main body 2.5A for 60 minutes.
Not sure whether it was my current calculations or the fact that the Aluminium was of a different grade to my test piece, but I couldn’t seem to achieve a black finish.
It ended up more ‘Dirty Bronze’ coloured, which – on reflection I actually quite like.
The surface was good and hard again.
The pictures don’t really do them justice – they look much nicer in the flesh….but you get the idea.
Next I realised that – having machined the inner diameter of my bodies to be an exact fit for the outer diameter of the IMS27 reflectors that I would need to devise a way of epoxying the Lux stars into the base of the body perfectly centred.
Found some more scrap – cast aluminium in the garage and made a custom centering tool.
The 3 body parts were then joined together.
I accomplished this by having an aluminium tube ‘dowel’, pegging the bodies together – affording a mechanical brace and a conduit for my wiring between the 3 parts.
The dowels were epoxied into place with Araldite Metal Epoxy and all touching surfaces of the bodies had epoxy applied as well, before being taped up to hold everything in place and left to set.
The stars were later epoxied into position and wired in series.
If I’d have paid more attention to the orientation of my stars, the wiring could have been neater, but I didn’t - so this is how it came out.
Next the n-Flex was wired up and mounted with the nylon ring epoxied into place.
The gauge of wire was the heaviest that I could use - and still get through the connection holes in the n-Flex.
The wire was a bit thick and made things a bit tight in there – but it all fits in!
The reflectors were then dropped into position and seated correctly.
The Pelican M6 lenses dropped on top, followed by ‘O’ rings for a bit of cushioning and a good seal and then the bezels pushed into place with a bit of epoxy to boot.
The unit would have been water tight if it were not for the switch at the back.
But it’s a minor point – and I’m strictly a fair weather cyclist!
The back plate mounts with 3 x M2 countersunk screws.
The handlebar mount, screws to the main body with an M5 screw.
Mount was modified to fit exactly to the contour of the main body. (Sandpaper wrapped round a main body sized drum).
I would have machined a flat onto the body – but the lathe has no milling facility – there’s always an alternative.
It’s no lightweight – especially when you take into account the battery pack, but I recon its fits the bill and meets all my criteria.
It probably took me a full weeks work (The Anodizing alone took up 2 days).
Yes I do actually have a job…But this is what I chose to do with my week off instead of going on holiday!
Here’s the final product:
Would have done beam shots too - but its hammering it down outside.
Will add on later when it's a bit nicer outside.
Don't really have the know how to do good beamshots...But here's my effort, showing light on Low, Med and High.
Light source is 55ft from subject. Camera is about half way inbetween.
Not sure what exposure settings were...They are the same in each shot and were what I came up with to most accurately depict what the eye sees in real life.