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Thread: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

  1. #1

    Rolleye11 CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    I know this is a pretty common mod for many, but I haven't seen any detailed pics so I thought I'd contribute some. Very easy, straight-forward mod, with fantastic output.

    To begin, the light in question is the 4W version of the CPF Limited Edition Multi-Level light available here from Wits' End (which seems to be one of the early VB-16 variants).

    The SSC star is a P4 USWOH from PhotonFanatic available here

    Here's the requisite headshot:


    The light can be de-focused for a more floody beam, which is an advantage here since you don't have to worry as much about getting the emitter height exactly right to start.

    And here's what the stock Lux III star looks like once you unscrew the head.


    I was a little surprised to see the stock star was epoxied in place, instead of screwed down (you'll notice the screw holes). Took a bit of prying to get the old star off (note: you are likely to ruin to old star in the process). Once you get it out, you have to scrape off all that old thermal compound/epoxy, and do a thorough clean with a little alcohol.

    Note that the stock emitter sits higher than the new SSC emitter. The picture below exagerates it a little (I didn't clean the base of the removed star), but black line I've drawn is helpful to show the approximate emitter height difference. In the past, I've found you need at least an extra ~0.02" or so to get the SSC emitter to sit at the same point as a stock lux emitter


    Here's my solution: after removing all the old thermal compound and cleaning the heatsink, I added a little Arctic Silver and 3 copper slugs of 0.027" thickness from the sandwich shoppe (normally used for raising individual emitters).


    I then added a little arctic silver to the base of the new star and mounted on top, making sure to spread the thermal compound around well. Given the over-driven nature of this light, I didn't want to use thermal epoxy (not as good a conducter as arctic silver), so I added a couple of screws to hold the star in place. Just solder the leads to appropriate pads, and here's the final product with SSC star in place.


    Here's the final assembly with the head in place.


    And now the beamshots. All shots below are with the light tighly focused for max throw. In the case of the stock setup, that meant the head fully screwed down. For the raised SSC star, it mean a half-turn loosed from fully down. If you didn't raise the star, you probably wouldn't be able to get as tightly focused a beam without altering the reflector height.

    I've photoshoped the before and after beam shots together, taken at the same manual camera settings. You'll note the tint difference - my old stock emitter was a definite green-tint (which I rather like, personally) the new emitter is bit cooler with a hint of blue.

    Stock on left, SSC-mod on right, shutter 1/125, f2.8


    Stock on left, SSC-mod on right, shutter 1/40, f2.8


    According to my home-made light meter setup, overall output has increased by 85-95% over the stock emitter, depending on battery (the light is about 15% brighter on primaries than 18650, both before and after the mod.)

    To give you some relative values, on AW protected 18650, the moded light is about 25% brighter than the direct drive ZPOWER JYE SSC T-bin available at DX, or about 15% brighter than my moded direct drive Vika with a SSC U-bin - reviewed here:
    DX shootout: JYE Wide SSC vs Vika Wide with SSC mod
    That also makes this moded CPF-SSC light roughly comparable in output to popular "U2-style Cree" DX sells.

    On primaries, the output is about 15% brighter than new series Surefire L2 on high (estimated at 120 lumens). That makes this mod the brightest light in my arsenal at the moment.

    So there you have it: a straight-forward mod that nearly doubled overall output. I'd be a little concern about running the light for extended periods on the max over-driven setting, but I'll report back if any problems appear. So far, looks great!

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 04-10-2007 at 07:36 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* EngrPaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    For a minute there, I thought you were going to install 3 emitters.



  3. #3

    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by EngrPaul
    For a minute there, I thought you were going to install 3 emitters.
    Haha ... I haven't quite graduated to that level of skill yet.

    I could probably have fit 4 copper slugs in there, but I was concerned about leaving too much dead space directly under the emitter. Hopefully that's enough copper to transfer heat.

    FYI, it seems to me subjectively that the light gets warmer faster than before, so it seems the heatsinking is working.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Awsome mod Selfbuilt! I have 3 of the CPF Limited lights, they are bright just stock. Very cool!!!
    U.S. MARINES 3/3 KILO
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  5. #5
    Flashaholic* cratz2's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    I have the #2/290 CPF light sitting on the shelf waiting patiently for an SSC mod... just haven't done it yet because I'm a slacker.

    Also just so you know, an IMS 27 reflector cleans up the beam quite nicely... At least with the Lux III... It's really an outstandingly versatile light. I mean, it has near infinite levels of output just seconds away... it can run on 2 primaries, 2 R123s, 1c18650 or 1x17670... With the IMS reflector, it throws quite well and has a fairly bright spillbeam.

    And with the SSC mod, it will be brighter than the very brightest stock single LED lights from a year ago.

    What's not to like?
    "That's what makes SF so badass... we've got the best flashlights."

  6. #6

    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by cratz2
    Also just so you know, an IMS 27 reflector cleans up the beam quite nicely... At least with the Lux III
    I've heard that before ... might be worth a shot. I'm generally fairly happy with the beam profile, but a smoother transition never hurts.

    It is quite a versatile little light - the poor man's U2, as I've heard it referred. Only problem now is I have to stop myself from ramping up the brightness as far as I used to - it's quite blinding!

    FYI, this light has always sat on my nightstand, set to come on at the lowest setting. Great for bathroom trips or investigating bumps in the night.
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  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Omega Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Can you compare the throw if the mod to another light? I have #222 and am proud to own it. I opened it and when the star didn't magically lift out or unscrew, I decided to forget about swapping it. But after seeing your tutorial, I might go for it.
    RIP Don and Mike Show. Long Live The Mike O'Meara Show!

  8. #8

    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man
    Can you compare the throw if the mod to another light?
    Configured for throw, on a 18650 AW protected battery, the throw and output are virtually identical to the "U2-style" cree that DX sells (with an OP reflector) that runs at 1200mA. The smooth reflector on the CPF multi-level doesn't seem to be ideally suited for throw with the SSC, no matter how I adjust it (actually, it's hard to keep the LED centered as you turn, as my stock reflector opening seems to be a bit off-center).

    Upon further playing with this mod, I'd recommend against running the 4W overdriven version of this light (which I have) on max with primaries. Primaries increase overall output on max by an additional ~15% or so above max 18650 levels (with little difference to throw).

    However, I notice an immediate blue-tint shift as you soon as you go above the max output level a 18650 produces (i.e. the top ~3 up button clicks on primaries). This is unlike the slow blue-tint shift of an overheating emitter that's not properly heatsinked. This effect is immediate: as soon as you hit the up button one more time, it tints slightly blue and stays there. As soon as you drop down one level, it's back to smooth white.

    I didn't notice this originally, as I always use 18650 batteries in this light. But the overdriven circuit on the 4W model does not seem well suited to the SSC with primaries on max.

    This is hardly surprising, since the max output on 18650 matches any cree or SSC light I've seen on the market so far. Going higher than that is obviously pushing things a little far!
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Omega Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Well, maybe I'll just keep it's integrity then. Thanks for letting me know.
    RIP Don and Mike Show. Long Live The Mike O'Meara Show!

  10. #10

    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    It's certainly a great light as is - and with the mod and appropriate caution, it really can be made twice as bright safely (at least for 18650). But as you'll notice on my pics, it takes a fair amount of leverage to pry the old star out (i.e. you'll see the dings on the aluminum heatsink in my hack job)

    Backing up my concern on the running the SSC-mod light at full tilt on primaries, initial current draw on primaries on max was 1.6A! Couldn't get a stable reading on 18650, but I would have expected it to be somewhere slightly north of 1A.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  11. #11
    Enlightened branny's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Did this same mod on a gen II VB16 last week. A flat blade screwdriver with a small head is enough to pry out the star, managed to keep it in good enough condition to use in a DX Ellie- 2 mods for the price of one


    Couldn't see much difference in the height of the dies so just AA epoxied the SSC star in. The beam pattern is as good as the original, with a nice tight hotspot and just a little 'ringiness'.

  12. #12

    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by branny
    Couldn't see much difference in the height of the dies so just AA epoxied the SSC star in. The beam pattern is as good as the original, with a nice tight hotspot and just a little 'ringiness'.
    Yeah, this light doesn't need much raising of the star at all ... you could easily get by with just direct contact to the heatsink. It's odd really - I've moded some lights with genuine lux stars that needed considerably more than the 0.027" spacers to get the right focus with the SSC star . My DX Vika, for ex, needed almost twice that much raising. I suspect it's due to the reflector shape - the SSC is not an exact match for the lux emission pattern, after all.

    Cool icon btw ... I gather you are a B5 fan?
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by branny
    Did this same mod on a gen II VB16 last week. [...]

    Couldn't see much difference in the height of the dies so just AA epoxied the SSC star in. The beam pattern is as good as the original, with a nice tight hotspot and just a little 'ringiness'.
    So did I ...

    I hadn´t thought about the different height and fixed the star right away with Arctic Silver epoxy. The beam wasn´t really good, so I used "something like a" o-ring between the lens and the reflector to fix the reflector position.

    Now it´s bright and nice ...

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* Lunal_Tic's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man
    I have #222 and am proud to own it.

    I have 222 of 290 myself. I didn't know there were two of them, must have been twins separated at birth.

    -LT
    lunal tic (n)
    a distinctive behavioral trait or quirk directly related to or caused by light [15th cent. Latin lunaris. Ultimately from an IE word meaning “light,”] and [Early 19th cent. Italian ticchio.] see also: moon quirk

  15. #15
    Enlightened branny's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    Cool icon btw ... I gather you are a B5 fan?
    Yeah, amongst other things . The image is from Babylon park:

    "Oh my God, they killed Koshi!"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon_Park

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Paul6ppca's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Any thoughts on P7 in here?

    What would run time be and output be?Could I get over 400 lumens and variable output.I would use an 18650.
    Any other thoughts on a reflector Any beamshot with IMS27 ,how about a MC reflector?Just a few thought as I wait for it to arrive.I have a P4 star,maybe I will just swap emitters.
    Food for thought

  17. #17

    Default Re: CPF multi-level (aka VB-16) mod with SSC - lotsa pics!

    Nice mod.

    About how much would it cost to do this mod to a 3w VB-16 - the one with the clicky on the tail and two small buttons up near the head?

    I've never modded any light, so I might also consider having someone else do the mod if the price was right.

    I'm just pondering if it's worth upgrading a light that I already have or buying a new light like the Fenix LD20 for my wife to keep in her car.

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