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Thread: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

  1. #1
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    Default What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Back when I joined, there were a buncha guys looking for nice host lights, a nice driver from the Sandwich Shoppe, a nice LED and would roll their own. Sandwiches for Mini Mags, Space Needle type mods (who did this first anyways? MR Bulk or Elektrolumens?), cheap chinese lights being modded like the RogueSoul. LED swaps in Dorcy AAAs....

    Ahh, those were the days

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* sORe-EyEz's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    not uber cheap, but would like to have original newer LED modules available for upgrades on my Pelican & Streamlight flashlights & headlamps without needing to resort to custom modding or 3rd party options.

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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    Back when I joined, there were a buncha guys looking for nice host lights, a nice driver from the Sandwich Shoppe, a nice LED and would roll their own. Sandwiches for Mini Mags, Space Needle type mods (who did this first anyways? MR Bulk or Elektrolumens?), cheap chinese lights being modded like the RogueSoul. LED swaps in Dorcy AAAs....

    Ahh, those were the days
    I joined right when these kinds of mods were on a decline and chinese high powered lights were starting to appear.

    You're right tho I miss reading about these quick and dirty mods. Most of the mods today are built more like super high end hot rods.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    It's generally not cost effective given you can get production lights with the latest an greatest LED's already in them.

    When the SSC P4 and Cree's first came out then modding was the way to go. It was quite a long time from the LED release before a good quality high efficiency LED production headlamp came out. So I modded 3 Eos and 2 Apex. Now you can just buy em. I would never recommend someone to buy the closeout 25lm EOS at $25 then spend the time and money to replace the LED and void the warranty, when they could just buy the 50lm model for $35.

    When the next big leap in technology allows us to buy 180 lm/watt LED's expect a flurry of modding till the manufacturers catch up.
    Light is the activity of what is transparent - Aristotle

  5. #5

    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Quote Originally Posted by cave dave View Post
    It's generally not cost effective given you can get production lights with the latest an greatest LED's already in them.
    When the next big leap in technology allows us to buy 180 lm/watt LED's expect a flurry of modding till the manufacturers catch up.
    Yep, this pretty much sums it up.

  6. #6
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    Default

    that time getting everything needed, costed more than a good light today
    and did not work as good (multilevel) and did not look same good. Materials were also not this good.

    ... then entered Fenix, there was nothing comparable be4
    (now there are several other makers also)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    My first mod was in 2001. Zetex boost converter, Luxeon low dome etc. Voila! Home made sandwich. Turned a crappy Mag 2AA into something really bright (at least back then it was) and useful with great beam. Probably cost me more in parts and time than what you can get cheap these days for a lot less hassle. But there's nothing like rolling your own and the pride that goes with it.

    Mods still have their place today, despite the availability of decent cheap lights. These cheapos are good for the masses but when it comes to really high performance lights where everything matters (like driver efficiency), the only option is a custom one. There's still a lot of satisfaction to be had by taking something mediocre and turning it into a "racecar".

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Lunal_Tic's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I don't know if you're only referring to LED mods but I'm still partial to the 3xCR123 and a Mag 5cell bulb (or bulb of your choice) in a 2 C Mag. Cheap, easy, bright, and a sleeper.

    -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

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* LEDninja's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Cutting the legs of a SMJLED and drilling out the reflector of a minimag does not make sense anymore.
    Dropping an RCR123A into a Q-III would go from 28 to 75 lumens. Followed by tailcap or circuit board changes. Now the bulk of the 1AA lights bought by CPF members can easily beat that.

    -----

    With the bulk of SSC-P7 lights pretty bad and getting worse, making your own SSC-P7 M@g is quite popular.
    Another mod still going strong is replacing older XREs with Q5s & R2s.
    I think replacing Luxeons with SSC-P4s are almost done.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* RA40's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I thought some of the mods of the day were still $$ to implement. Some of the pills cost $30+ and you would drop that into a AA mag host. A reflector, lens... it still added up.

    As had been mentioned, when the far east makers began crunching these out, hand-built units became less efficient ratio for the $$. Buy the whole light instead. While it may not be the SF quality of the time, when the technology changed, you didn't think so much about replacing it. At the higher end, a top performing light would hold itself over for a spell so in those cases, it was a good expense. YMMV...with what Fenix produces relative to cost...it offers good value and performance.

    I still use an L1P.
    Mike

  11. #11
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I dunno, but by the time I tallied materials, time, etc. there's no way I'd declare mods "cheap".

    There are simple ones (like plopping a 5mm LED in a minimag), I'll give you that. However, once you start messing with circuits... it ain't cheap anymore!

    I think Dave hit the nail on the head. Why spend $110 in parts + labor + etc. if you can buy a better performing light for a fraction of that?

    My personal answer would be "'cuz I like messing with stuff and prefer to roll my own!", but others think differently. Right now lack of time is what keeps me from building a few mods I've had parts ready for months.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* ANDREAS FERRARI's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Sometimes listening to you 'oldtimers',makes me feel young,than I realize that the underwear I have on is older than this site!

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    *Flashaholic* kramer5150's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I just bought an eveready hard case 2AAA light, intending to mod it. I like the form and feel of it in my hand, Its very ergonomic compared to a knurled aluminum tube... especially in the cold winter months. So I don't think dropping in a R2/Q5-WC for $7 is excessively $$$.
    CLICK HERE for my flashlight reviews.
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    Flashaholic* Christoph's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Mods Cheap!Time are changing I have enough parts to make several good bright mag mods however I would be hard pressed to even break even on the parts cost let alone my time.Besides I never could do much more than break even on the mods I sold.I have kept or gifted the last several mods I have made.
    Chris

  15. #15
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Quote Originally Posted by ANDREAS FERRARI View Post
    Sometimes listening to you 'oldtimers',makes me feel young,than I realize that the underwear I have on is older than this site!
    Old timers? I'm barely 20
    My favorite "cheap" mod - 3D cells, a hot lips heat sink, Lux III direc drive into a Mag

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Essexman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    Space Needle type mods (who did this first anyways? MR Bulk or Elektrolumens?), ....

    Ahh, those were the days
    15 posts and still no one answers!

    Mr Bulk invented the space needle (I think?),

    aahhhhh space needle, that was my first LED mod, oohh the look on my face when it was first fired up. The wife thought I was mad, in fact she still does, but puts up with it.

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* mdocod's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    The areas where custom or heavily modified configurations reside is in constant motion. There are a number of simple drop-in solutions to mag modifications with incans that simply can not be purchased as a production light. As as been mentioned already, there is a major lacking of production P7 lights that are worth a look, the P7 is just recently finding it's way into *quality* production lights. There are new cell chemistries becoming available to the mainstream CPF hobbyist, which have opened up some new doors to the world of pocket incan screamers.

    Bottom line is, things have shifted. It's all the same concepts, more light, smaller package, more runtime, but the ways to achieve those ends have changed with technology.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Cydonia's Avatar
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    Shrug Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Some of the most potentially useful mods (long run time lights for emergency situations) are often the cheapest. I'm after utility and function mostly. All the fancy stuff is for high rollers with a lot of excess time and cash on their hands. It's when everyone starts to play catch up with the rich boys (on credit usually) that things can get out of hand. That's how I see it.

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* mdocod's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    CHEAP MOD:

    2x14500 li-ion cells.
    Any PR base 2AA light with decent build ($3-10).
    6 cell flashlight bulb.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* Techjunkie's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I was never one to blow a lot of dough on this hobby. All my early mods were done with home-made parts and hotwire bulbs that didn't cost more than $6. Only last year, I had enormous guilt over spending $15 on Kiu sockets instead of building my own.

    That was then.

    In the last two weeks I've managed to destroy an SSC P7 emitter, a CREE MC-E emitter, and knock the dome off of another MC-E emitter. That $70 worth of mistakes pales in comparison to what I've spent on my "successful" mods. Between buying new torches and upgrading several of my single emitter torches, I now own 10 quad die emitters in addition to the three I've killed. Not to mention the new batteries to power all those super LEDs. That has all come to be since some time in October.

    How those cheap mods turned into this wallet emptying, sleep depriving obsession that causes me to fall asleep thinking about my current mods and wake up planning my next one can be summed up in a single word:

    Addiction.

    That's what happened to those days if you ask me. If this was only a simple little hobby, most of us non-millionaires would still be content with the occasional cheap mod instead of logging several hours a day browsing parts and checking orders online. CPF is like a gateway drug that leads purchases that simply cannot be rationalized. Addiction? Definitely. How do I know I'm right? Ask Sasha how many posts there are on CPF!

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* kz1000s1's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Quote Originally Posted by mdocod View Post
    CHEAP MOD:

    2x14500 li-ion cells.
    Any PR base 2AA light with decent build ($3-10).
    6 cell flashlight bulb.
    That's a good one. Sort of a modern version of what I used to build with an Energizer Industrial 2AA, 3 cr123 cells and a 5 cell KPR112 bulb. Unfortunately the reflectors would start to melt at 2 minutes run time. It worked much better when I started putting this combo in Mag 2C's. You can put a Surefire P90 or P91 lamp in these Energizers too.

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...ad.php?t=18833
    Dave


  22. #22

    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    Back when I joined, there were a buncha guys looking for nice host lights, a nice driver from the Sandwich Shoppe, a nice LED and would roll their own. Sandwiches for Mini Mags, Space Needle type mods (who did this first anyways? MR Bulk or Elektrolumens?), cheap chinese lights being modded like the RogueSoul. LED swaps in Dorcy AAAs....

    Ahh, those were the days
    Fenix came on the scene and blew everything out of the water.
    MY EDC: JETBEAM M1X - it replaced 8 other lights.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I'm just talking LEDs here.
    When Luxeons first came out, they weren't available in many production lights. There wasn't nearly as much of a market for LEDs, because the output was generally so low. Early mods upgrading greenie P bins to Q3J and R2H emitters, boosting stock circuits to 700mA instead of the 350mA spec'd for 1w LEDs...we made big differences in the performance of our lights. As high domes and higher flux bins became available, we could still make a noticeable difference by swapping to premium tints, ditching optics in favor of reflectors.
    The expensive ones were lights that used custom parts, which became popular. Many of us wanted something nice and unique, not just a cranked up factory light limited by its design.
    Buck/boost circuits let us use Li-ion cells that hadn't yet taken off enough for companies that were building lights to consider in their designs, too.
    Now you can buy a $50-75 light that will smoke the ones we were spending $2-300 to build a couple of years ago, and flashlight manufacturers are incorporating multiple modes, adaptability to various battery configurations...things we could never get out of the box back then.
    Now there's not much we can do that's practical to make a drastic improvement, except maybe improve the tint, and now manufacturers are catching on to that, too.
    'Course there will always be people looking for more and more options and output "because they can", and mods like some that we're seeing with P7s and MC-Es(or multiples of those) will doubtless continue, but that's at a whole 'nother $$ level than what most of us are willing or able to spend for a EDC light.
    I'd like to do a few more mods, but they'll be on an old favorite or two that I enjoy, and would like to update.
    Most of the time, now, there's no point in doing them when we can get what we want straight from the manufacturer, or from a builder like Malkoff who gives us so much for so little investment.
    As in many other aspects of day-to-day living, I'm sure the trend toward instant gratification has had an effect on the situation as well.
    A fact of life when you start modding, beyond expense, is time and aggravation. If you don't get a viable return on those...how long are you going to keep doing it?
    Last edited by Owen; 02-20-2009 at 07:14 AM.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic* Fallingwater's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to the day of uber cheap mods?

    I'm still routinely doing mods to my cheap lights.

    Modded one of these with Jeleds, a custom two-mode 1xAMC7135 driver and a 18650 LiIon cell.

    Modded one of these with Cree R2 and custom two-mode 4xAMC7135 driver (1.4A driving current to the LED with a fresh cell)

    Modded a Shiningbeam L-Mini with a SSC P4 and two-mode 3xAMC driver (original driver blew; new driver is temporary until I manage an interface microcontroller swap in a regulated buck-boost driver from KD).

    Modded a 1xAAA 1x5mmLED keychain light from qualitychinagoods with a Nichia GS

    Transplanted the driver off another identical QCG light in a plastic 1xAA body. I started a thread about these, but I can't find it.

    It's quite possible that I'm forgetting some other mods...


    There are also several mods in various stages of completion, the nicest of which (if it comes out right) will be a complete rebuild of this with an improved heatsink, SSC P4 emitter, 2xAMC7135 driver and glass lens. I have all the components, but I'm having problems with the heatsink - the original has a huge hole where heatsinking is needed the most. I'm trying to grind down an eurocent to fit in the hole, but I'm having trouble doing a good enough job with the tools at my disposal.
    Last edited by Fallingwater; 02-20-2009 at 08:23 PM.
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