New life for Alephs!
New life for Alephs!
Here's an idea.
The window for xmas is extremely short and there is no way production boards will be available. In fact I have not placed an order yet for production boards.
I do have some 50 boards. Please voice your thoughts about the following or any other suggestions you'd like to voice.
1) Continue with the Beta test program and offer completed lights selling them as is. If the initial cold start momentary flash is not an issue for you I believe there is no other known problems. You may not like the drive levels that are currently chosen and this is won't be an option at the moment to make different tables available to keep it simple at my end.
2) Wave off the beta testing and go full steam making the current 50 available as is and order the boards for production. There is risk associated with ordering production in that any issues we find that would affect production would have to be dealt with when it arises. This probably makes little sense. If I placed an order for production boards it would be two work weeks before the raw boards were received which would be the 2nd week of December. Possibly if all the components were available they would be loaded in the following week which would put delivery to me just around xmas. Unless I could get them a week or two before xmas to prep, program and assemble it seems we have missed the window for production units by xmas.
Regarding what would be available would depend on demand. My preference would be completed tested flashlights (Aleph Mule, A19 configurations with Cree XRE).
I'm reserving my work day for custom mods, add resistor and production orders so that the next week or so we can ensure timely order shipment. I would have to go balls to the wall ASAP right now if I had to make 50 LE and then put the LE into lights. That would probably take me a week or so to make the LEs. I'm working lightly on new product development in order to allow for bandwidth for orders and basic production.
Basically, what I'm asking is: Would you be willing or have desire for something now since you want it before xmas or it doesn't matter?
Wayne, I'd rather see you go ahead with the beta testing, but offer some lights to people who must have one by Christmas.
Delay ordering of the production boards until the testing is completed and any issues identified and resolved.
I also think it would be a good idea to have a few boards only beta tested. This would give some feedback on building with them and performance with different hosts and/or LEDs.
I would like to beta test one of your LE's, with a Titanium head.
With the potential for Christmas production orders closed, I feel continuing development via Beta testing would be the best approach before committing to the production boards. Otherwise any unexpected discoveries could potentially taint the batch and consume your resources, not to mention further delay initial release and future A19 configuration.
Thank you for initiating discussion about Beta boards, LED Zeppelin (Dennis) brings up good points about receiving feedback from the modding community. If the GDuP will eventually be available for separate purchase, I agree that it's important to have input not only from a user perspective but from various builders as well. In addition, offering a limited number of boards would be cost effective as testers would be supplying the host body, optics, LED, etc... to cover the many variables you mentioned earlier.
+1 to the continuation of BETA. I'm one of the ones waiting for the bare board.
EDC: Surefire e2l, Novatac P7/d2flex
I would prefer to wait for any potential problems to be ironed out first, rather
than having anything ready for Xmas.
I have 7 Aleph-LE compatible lights, 5 of them Titanium, which
I'd love to upgrade with new LEs rather than buying turnkey lights.
I will certainly buy these LEs at a stroke if/when they become available.
After Xmas, R-bin Crees (and maybe V-bin SSC-P4s) will be rolling off the
production lines and LEs with these leds will be the ticket for me.
Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same thing.
Option 1 - continue with the beta testers. A finished product without unintended issues goes a long way towards a quality product that sells well. Its why I keep coming back to the SS for more.
I'd be glad to put one of these beta units through the wringer.
I've sent out two completed Mule lights to beta testers. I have not gone through and selected others.
I did notice after the fact that I had the timeout set to ~1.5 seconds instead of the 1 second period. I corrected this and added a little pulse when it times out to give a visual feedback of when the lockout occurs. Otherwise, it's hard to describe to a novice how to use the light.
Now, I can show someone and say leave it on till it blips before turning it off. While this occurs in 1 second I still see people cycling the light faster than 1 second just playing with it and accidentally cycling the light.
The Beta units do not have the blip. I made a little video of the UI.
GDuP video UI
Wayne, is there any change of getting just the LE for testing? I'd like to try one in a Titanium host.
I have had the good fortune of being the recipient of a beta test unit.
Right out of the box I figured out the UI without reviewing the thread, that's a big plus.
My initial impressions are very positive. I don't think anyone would have a complaint if these were the production boards.
The drive levels for this unit are 10, 180, and 700 mA. Numerically they may not seem evenly spaced, but visually they are great. The low is very low, and the med is nicely spread. Hi is quite bright, impressive even. I haven't done a side-by-side with my SOB750 Mule head, or installed the GDuP in other Alephs, but I will and get back.
I do not even notice any initial turn-on flash, or delay in the light coming on. I'll see if I can detect it in side-by-side comparisons, but if it's there it's very subtle.
The flash to indicate level latching is not in this light, but I don't miss it. In fact there are probably some who prefer not to have it at all.
I'm not sure if this unit has a 1 sec. or 1.5 sec. advance window, but it works well. For just playing with it, it could be even shorter. But playing with it and using it are very different. As a tool I rarely turn my light on then off that quickly. And for that one person out there that needs a rapid momentary for rapping in Morse code, this UI is not for you. The levels will be changing then you'll be in calibration mode in less than a sentence.
The GDuP and McClicky switch work very well together. I can impress myself by how quickly I can select my desired level rapid-fire, well under a second.
I did notice that I would accidentally enter the calibration mode just fiddling with it. The calibration is aborted when the light is then turned off, but it has latched onto the calibration mode and turning on the light again starts the calibration all over. You need to complete the ramping calibration sequence, then the light reverts to low.
I'm sure there will be demand for a mizer and turbo versions, but this particular setup is very versatile and seemingly covers all the bases from dim to bright.
To be honest I've never liked the McTC tail much, mostly because it doesn't work as well with a McE2S as the knurled caps do, and the styling didn't quite flow. But on this particular setup it is at home. I don't need to twist it, the flare makes it easy to use cigar-grip, it's proportionate and balanced with the Mule head, and even the flutes are coordinated. You'd think they were designed together. In fact on this particular light it is looks better than any other compatible tail.
I'll continue testing, take some measurements and pics, and get back.
So far this seems like a great board with a simple, easy to use UI, that is thankfully void of strobe clutter. It is evident that much thought has gone into it as anyone who has followed this thread knows.
Thanks for sharing your initial impressions Dennis!
Looking forward to updates and hearing from the other tester(s), hope there's a mizer beta out there...
The current board has the following limitations:
1) It can't calibrate below ~10mA~20mA so it can't be configured for "mizer".
2) Converter board thickness is 1.6mm (standard PCB thickness). The board needs to be 1/2 that or 0.8mm thickness along with the 0.8mm anode board for standard LE. The only CAN the current configuration will fit into is the integral ESCan and that is only designed for the Cree 650MCPCB. This limits the ESCAN to the mule and A19 (more or less). Even then, the completed two board setup barely fits in the standard can. I don't recall offhand if the inductor needs to be lower in height to be standard can compatible and the inductor order I placed a month or two ago seems to have never taken place and I don't recall what inductors I had in the order.
I did some more research last night and found a different sense IC that is larger. I believe I have squeezed it onto the board and will be ordering another small proto run of boards. I will be ordering it in 0.8mm thickness.
The current batch I've decided to release as is exclusive in LE and completed lights. All boards have been modified and they all programmed. I completed that late last night around 1am.
These will be offered at full price. Obviously no matter what decision are made will make some people happy and others not so happy.
The next set of boards I make I think I will tweek the code a little more. I'm considering moving the calibration from 15 to something like 50 and then modify my programming fixture to have a microprocessor on board to incorporate a button that when pressed will toggle the power 50 times to automate the sequence to get the unit into calibration. This would make it very unlikely to ever see the calibration sequence.
Once I fully characterize the new board I'm hoping I will be able to come up with cal values for a regular mode and a mizer version. Also, it will be this new board that I will make available to modders. As it stands now it seems to work fine with the Aleph tailcap in twisty mode.
lockout I'm considering to shorten to even less than 1 second. Something like 1/2 to 3/4 of a second. This will help prevent cycling for the non UI people. If you hand this light to someone else it's unlikely they will cycle levels just playing with it.
Those are my current thoughts.
Wayne, as I mentioned, this test unit performs well and is deserving of retail pricing. The UI works as good as any multi-functions out there. The simplicity is refreshing.
I think shortening the lockout to 3/4 second would be fine. At 1/2 sec I think I'd have to try it first.
Here is a picture of the beta test unit and some other lights or parts I've tested.
Standing at left is the original issue A19 GD825 Shoppe light, and at right is the recent SOB750 Mule head on a 2 X 123 tube and a 15 ohm McE2S. At center is a bare TnC AA tube, which I used to test out the GDuP on a 14500 Li-ion. The TnC tube also has a McClicky in the integrated tail. The Mule head looks very good on it too.
I did a series of under-the-desk lightmeter readings with my Meterman. I took a series of reading until I acheived consistency and here are the typical. I threw out the inevitable strangely high or low values. The distance from the lens to the meter was 19".
Beta test unit as delivered with a fresh CR123: lo, med, hi readings of 19, 60, and 300 lux.
Beta test unit as delivered with a 14500 Li-ion: lo, med, hi readings of 19, 65, and 380 lux.
The GDuP is brighter on hi running a Li-ion.
I wanted to compare the brightness to the other Shoppe XRE LEs I have:
GD825 P4 Shoppe LE (from the original A-19 XRE) in the Mule head & CR123: 230 lux
Same head on the 14500: 245 lux
SOB750 Q4 Shoppe Mule head and 15 ohm McE2S, 2 X CR123, lo and hi: 45 and 245 lux.
NG750 Q5 LE in beta host, CR123: 250 lux.
NG750 Q5 LE in beta host, RCR123: 270 lux.
The GDuP LE is the brightest on hi. I don't know what the emitter specs are, but it also warms up faster than the SOB or NG.
Wayne, is it possible that high is more than 700 mA?
Next I wanted to see how the GDuP performed in a different host. I installed the LE into a Ti TB host, with a McR27XR and 1 X 123 tube.
GDuP w/ CR123 @ 1 m the readings were: 180, 1100, and 4000 lux
GDuP w/ RCR123: 200, 1200, and 5200 lux
The Ti TB host with the NG750 Q5 LE @ 1 m, CR123: 4500 lux
The Ti TB, NG750, RCR123: 4900 lux.
In this host the NG and GDuP gave closer lux readings on hi, both running a Li-ion. Perhaps the focus in the reflector is a factor.
I'm not sure how much I would read into the numbers, it's really really hard to get consistent lux readings and so many things affect the reading, especially human error. After the fact I also noticed the McClicky of the beta unit was acting up. So there may be some erratic resistance from it. I guess I wore it out fiddling with it.
I should note, as you've probably assumed, that the GDuP LE worked flawlessly in any host I've tried it in. It's great to have a 3-stage clicky; now I don't have to build anymore of those PITA Judco/McClicky mods. And the 3 levels are well spaced so that all are useful.
Last edited by LED Zeppelin; 12-03-2007 at 12:07 AM. Reason: add
Probably the GDuP Beta shipped with a Q4 which is probably why it's brighter.
The Internal reference of the microprocessor is ~ +/- 8%. I've seen some calibrate as high as 800mA. Not sure yet what the variability is when calibrating high. It seems to calibrate low and medium more accurately.
All LEs will have a Q4 installed on it.
I've been sending a lot of my observations to Wayne directly about the other Beta GDuP LE - and let me say, this thing is awesome.
Like LEDZep, I've experimented with the LE in a bunch of different configurations - the Mule, Al Aleph, and Ti Aleph. I've used it inside and outdoors, for close-up and far-away, and have carried it with me every day for four days now.
The KISS aspect of it really blows me away - three levels, distinctly different and each useful in their own right, and all accessed in a straight-forward manner! The low is perfect for close-up work - I've used it for reading, and for walking around at night inside. The medium is great for outdoors walking - not so bright that you lose your night vision, but bright enough to light up what's in front of you (and then some). And the high level was bright enough that it lit up a building that was 50 yards away, without a problem!
The initial flash is so fast, to the point that you don't even see it most of the time. I have some lights that have a startup flash on the lowest level, and there's NO comparing this one to those! Wayne, if you hadn't mentioned it to begin with, I might not have even noticed it - it's that quick.
The shortened lockout time and more cycles to get to the calibration mode would be welcomed. (Although I do like seeing that pulsing when you get into the calibration mode!)
I can't wait to put this LE is most of my Aleph lights - IMHO, the GDuP represents a big jump forward on the electronic side of the Aleph system of lights - making what already is the most interchangeable flashlight system even MORE versatile than it already was.
Overall, I'm a happy camper! Wayne, this thread has been a pleasure to follow, and I can't wait to see what else is in the future from the SS.
Dang! I feel like a kid sitting on the bench during the "big" game!
Without having actually sampled the GDuP yet, I believe it will support and deserves some design specific enhancments and improvements, moving forward, in terms of hosts which would be Aleph and E compatable but not necessarily compatible, in retro, with some of the earlier heads.
Thanks to the beta testers for their time and observations!! You are getting the juices flowing for us bench warmers!
I did another test and hooked the head up to a bench power supply and recorded some under-the-desk lux readings with different supply voltages.
Vin _ Lux
Again, there is a lot of room for error in my methods and equipment. There is an increase in brightness with voltage, but what my eye sees is not proportionate to the numbers. I could detect the difference of the extremes (2.0 vs. 5.0 V), but the rest all seemed comparable.
EDIT: The tests were done without recalibration of the GDuP w/ the built-in calibration mode.
The board ran fine on the full range of voltages tested, which I believe are the range that Wayne specified. I did try in on a single NiMH AA cell and it wouldn't light.
Last edited by LED Zeppelin; 12-10-2007 at 12:05 PM. Reason: add edit
Where did that titanium single cell mule come from? Are those hosts currently for sale?
The Ti light was custom machined by TranquillityBase, it is E series compatible, but not a McGizmo light. You would need to contact TB for information if you are interested in having one made.
Don has just released the Mule/McClicky pack wave, which I think is a great EDC - compact, lightweight, and with a clip. It is not Ti, but alum w/EN plating.
Tonight I actually used the GDuP Beta light as a tool. I had to jump start a friend's car in total darkness and the Mule was ideal. On high it's "wow" bright, and made the task easy.
After all the fiddling, testing, and discussion about the relatively insignificant nuances of the UI, it was nice to need and use it for it's intended purpose.
Wayne, it's good to go! Minor tweaks may be welcome by some, but not necessary IMO.
I'm not sure if my comments were interpreted as such that the product needed the changes. I was simply writing in response to the changes Wayne said he was going to make on the next set of boards. The rest of my post hopefully conveyed the fact that I'm seriously impressed with the GDuP, and while I'm sure there's always room for improvement in the creator's mind, IMHO, Wayne certainly hit the ball outta the park with this driver.
Moving on, I tried the GDuP with a Kroll switch today, and I'm pleased to report that it worked perfectly! I love the operation of the Krolls, and I'm happy the GDuP is Kroll-friendly!
John, sincere apologies for coming across directed at you, but that was not the case at all. I meant to emphasize that any changes would be realtively insignificant versus use of the light and that at this point any changes would border on preference of the user. For instance some may want a timeout flash, others may not.
Our impressions of the light are both similar, the UI is good.
We're all good!
Now, answer me this - what happens when a LED Zeppelin 2-stage Kroll mod teams up with this LE? I kinda mangled the one you made me in some Ti threads a while back, so it's outta commission for right now!
I had the GDuP on a 2-stage modded McClicky (same Judco guts) and it was confusing at first. But once I found hi, I just reverse momentaried it to switch levels. Not a recommended setup.
I do like the memory of the GDuP. With more complex programs that have multiple modes following the levels, I prefer no memory. I always seem to advance the mode accidentally and have to cycle through them all. I've been mostly using the GDuP on hi and it's one click.
The GDuP will decrease demand for the McE2S, at least in single cell lights.
John, is it just your Kroll housing that's mangled? PM me your address.
I can't do it with the switch though.
This means the window from when it starts monitoring how long it's been on starts sooner and maximizes the 1 second lockout window. The drawback to this will be more apparent with the twisties and switches that have more contact bounce like the Kroll may exhibit. This may end up skipping some levels some of the time. I will monitor the end usage and determine empirically based on end users response how to tweek these settings.
I have one that I've eliminated the 4mS startup delay and it cycles fine.
All the LEs have been built and will be put on the Shoppe as of this post.
The LE by itself is here.
A few completed lights are here.
Am interested new LE, as have quite a few "hosts". I do have a Ti Mule and am wondering if anyone has tried this LE with a reflector or is it only targeted for "mule"?
I would prefer a Aleph 2 head and reflector retrofit, but I see only A19 XRE reflectors?
Any insight would be greatly appreciated?
LED Zeppelin and I have both tried it in a couple different head configurations - the A19 head and McR-19 is the easiest candidate for the Cree LED, and it looked.. with this LE.
I think you can shim down a McR-20 reflector and make it somewhat properly focused for the A2 head, however it ain't as pretty as the A19 head!
Thanks John.........maybe I will have to sell something, so I can play with this one!!
With the McR20 you would have to enlarge the hole for the Cree ring to fit up into. I have tried it with an McR20 Seoul and everything fits together nicely. You do have to use an isolater over the Cree ring to prevent a short though.