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Thread: Mother of all scuba lights

  1. #1
    Flashaholic MrNaz's Avatar
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    Cool Mother of all scuba lights

    I would like to make the mother of all scuba lights, as I am tired of my little Princeton Tec Miniwave LED. I've just modified it to use 3 x P4 emitters, but it's still pretty weak compared to what I want.

    What I would like is a light with 7 emitters (hex grid pattern), either P7s or MCEs, driven to their brightest levels. They should be focussed to a large hotspot, say 15 degree beam, allowing the use of smaller reflectors, keeping the head's size within manageable limits. Heat is not an issue, as long as the heat sink that the emitters are mounted on is mated to the housing. The water will keep them cool. A thermistor could protect the emitters from being left on while not in the water.

    The big challenge is the housing and ensuring that it is mated to the LED heat sink. I was thinking of lathing the whole thing into a titanium tube using a lexan front lens. The light should have a pistol grip, as I prefer those to lantern grips. I have no idea how best to machine this to the main body of the light, but I'd like it to be detachable for compact storage.

    The lamp assembly needs to be interchangeable and as simple as possible. This would be useful as different emitter tints are better for different water conditions, and I could have multiple lamp assemblies for different conditions. The lamp assembly should incorporate the LEDs and their reflectors and screw into the head behind the lens, providing a solid mating with the outside case to ensure that heat can be bled into the surrounding water.

    As weight is not too big a concern (bouyancy is not necessary so long as the light has a tether point where it can be tethered to my wrist or BCD jacket), there is no need to limit the number of batteries that go into the torch. 8 x 18650 batteries arranged in a 2x2x2 arrangement (long cylinder) should provide a nice 45mins of full-brightness run time for the P7s, providing that there is appropriate circuitry managing the power draw. I would need lots of advice on the best circuitry for such a light, as I have very limited knowledge in this area. The switch should be a reed switch, so that there is no need for a point of potential ingress.

    Longer than 45 minutes run time should not be necessary although it would be nice. Dives are usually about an hour depending on depth, and you don't need the light for the first and last 5 minutes or so. I prefer easily accessible battery types, CR123A would be my first preference, but making a light that needed 16 of them is just silly. 18650 is my second choice as they are not too hard to find in a pinch, and I already have a good supply of them and a charger. Is this a good battery choice? Will 4x18650 work? How about 8xCR123A?

    Does anyone have any advice on this crazy 6,300 lumen project? Should I be doing it myself or would I be better off giving my designs to a professional to make it for me? I have no access to CNC equipment, all parts and tools will need to be bought, so I don't know if this is a realistic project for me to even embark upon. Advice would be most appreciated!

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    1st off ask yourself what you really want.
    Do you want one of the brightest dive lights about or do you want one of the most practical?
    A 7 multi die LED light will be huge. It will consume lots of power. It you want a focused beam it will need large reflectors. At least 35mm. So you light head is already 110mm wide. Thats big!
    Making it out of titanium will be expensive. Why not use aluminium like everyone else?
    Interchangeable LEDs is OK in theory but my guess is you would just be better off with a second dive light.
    It sounds like you want an all in one unit. Whats wrong with a cannister light? It means a smaller light head and a bigger battery pack.

    45 minute burn time? Are you serious? I wouldnt consider building a light with less than 2 hours run time. Thats enough for 2 average length dives. Better to have 3 hours so you have some reserve power. 45 minutes is just way to short. By the time your batteries are getting on a bit and its been a few days since they were charged you may only get 30 minutes or less from them.

    Forget the CR123's. 18650's provide the best capacity vs size in any battery AFAIK. Although Ni Mh is still a good option.

    My advice is start with some thing simple.
    Try a P7 in a Mag lite head. Then maybe try 4 XR-E's in a maglite head useing aspherics. Thats where I am at the moment and its better in many regards than my mates 21watt salvo which is a hell of a light.
    Check out some of the threads I have started and you should get some ideas.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Barbarin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by MrNaz View Post
    I would like to make the mother of all scuba lights, as I am tired of my little Princeton Tec Miniwave LED. I've just modified it to use 3 x P4 emitters, but it's still pretty weak compared to what I want.

    What I would like is a light with 7 emitters (hex grid pattern), either P7s or MCEs, driven to their brightest levels. They should be focussed to a large hotspot, say 15 degree beam, allowing the use of smaller reflectors, keeping the head's size within manageable limits. Heat is not an issue, as long as the heat sink that the emitters are mounted on is mated to the housing. The water will keep them cool. A thermistor could protect the emitters from being left on while not in the water.

    The big challenge is the housing and ensuring that it is mated to the LED heat sink. I was thinking of lathing the whole thing into a titanium tube using a lexan front lens. The light should have a pistol grip, as I prefer those to lantern grips. I have no idea how best to machine this to the main body of the light, but I'd like it to be detachable for compact storage.

    The lamp assembly needs to be interchangeable and as simple as possible. This would be useful as different emitter tints are better for different water conditions, and I could have multiple lamp assemblies for different conditions. The lamp assembly should incorporate the LEDs and their reflectors and screw into the head behind the lens, providing a solid mating with the outside case to ensure that heat can be bled into the surrounding water.

    As weight is not too big a concern (bouyancy is not necessary so long as the light has a tether point where it can be tethered to my wrist or BCD jacket), there is no need to limit the number of batteries that go into the torch. 8 x 18650 batteries arranged in a 2x2x2 arrangement (long cylinder) should provide a nice 45mins of full-brightness run time for the P7s, providing that there is appropriate circuitry managing the power draw. I would need lots of advice on the best circuitry for such a light, as I have very limited knowledge in this area. The switch should be a reed switch, so that there is no need for a point of potential ingress.

    Longer than 45 minutes run time should not be necessary although it would be nice. Dives are usually about an hour depending on depth, and you don't need the light for the first and last 5 minutes or so. I prefer easily accessible battery types, CR123A would be my first preference, but making a light that needed 16 of them is just silly. 18650 is my second choice as they are not too hard to find in a pinch, and I already have a good supply of them and a charger. Is this a good battery choice? Will 4x18650 work? How about 8xCR123A?

    Does anyone have any advice on this crazy 6,300 lumen project? Should I be doing it myself or would I be better off giving my designs to a professional to make it for me? I have no access to CNC equipment, all parts and tools will need to be bought, so I don't know if this is a realistic project for me to even embark upon. Advice would be most appreciated!
    Take a look at the "Old painless" Maybe you can take some ideas.

    Javier
    Fiat lux

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* Icarus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    What about the danger in using Li-ion cells in a dive light?
    I'm concerned about what will happen in case you get some water in it?

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Barbarin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Icarus View Post
    What about the danger in using Li-ion cells in a dive light?
    I'm concerned about what will happen in case you get some water in it?
    Near three years using Li-ION 18650's on thousands of diving flashlights, and 0 problems. Even on sea water flooded flashlights. In that case batteries get destroyed, there is pressure build up inside the battery tube, but not problem about that, once the flashlights have been designed to release gas before being opened, Of course the bodies are designed to stand pressure positive and negative.

    Javier
    Fiat lux

  6. #6
    Flashaholic MrNaz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Packhorse View Post
    1st off ask yourself what you really want.
    Do you want one of the brightest dive lights about or do you want one of the most practical?
    A 7 multi die LED light will be huge. It will consume lots of power. It you want a focused beam it will need large reflectors. At least 35mm. So you light head is already 110mm wide. Thats big!
    Making it out of titanium will be expensive. Why not use aluminium like everyone else?
    Interchangeable LEDs is OK in theory but my guess is you would just be better off with a second dive light.
    It sounds like you want an all in one unit. Whats wrong with a cannister light? It means a smaller light head and a bigger battery pack.

    45 minute burn time? Are you serious? I wouldnt consider building a light with less than 2 hours run time. Thats enough for 2 average length dives. Better to have 3 hours so you have some reserve power. 45 minutes is just way to short. By the time your batteries are getting on a bit and its been a few days since they were charged you may only get 30 minutes or less from them.

    Forget the CR123's. 18650's provide the best capacity vs size in any battery AFAIK. Although Ni Mh is still a good option.

    My advice is start with some thing simple.
    Try a P7 in a Mag lite head. Then maybe try 4 XR-E's in a maglite head useing aspherics. Thats where I am at the moment and its better in many regards than my mates 21watt salvo which is a hell of a light.
    Check out some of the threads I have started and you should get some ideas.
    I know that a 7 emitter P7 head will be large. That being said, it doesn't have to be too focused, I'd prefer to illuminate a large area close to my face rather than an object 20m away, so smaller collimators could be used instead of large reflectors.

    You are right, 7 emitters maybe overkill. 4 x P7 or MCE emitters will output a lot of light if they are driven right. How would 4 x P7 or MCE emitters compare with a 24W HID light? If I'm going to go to this trouble I must absolutely, positively, have the brightest light in my dive group .

    Anyway, I thought that the word "overkill" was a swear word on this forum? I'm not too concerned with a head of ~120mm diameter, just for sizing I used a cover from a spindle of CDs, which was 125mm across and that's liveable. That being said, I don't need a focussed beam, I'd prefer a more floody light. I was thinking perhaps a cluster of collimators at 25mm would do, making for a more reasonable head at ~80mm diameter. If that's not possible, the perhaps I should revisit the 4 emitter design. Can you offer any input on how much light 4 emitters (either P7 C-bin or MCE) would put out if they were driven to their max rated output? Would they rival a 24W HID?

    I've also sized out a cylinder which will hold a 2x2x2 array of 18650 batteries, and if that were stuck to my spindle cover, that light would be more than acceptible.

    You're right about burn time, although I didn't think getting 2+ hours burn time on 7 x P7 emitters would be possible on a man-portable device. I'd be happy if 8 x 18650 batteries gave me one dive (60 minutes or so) and on the few occasions where I'd do more than one night dive in a single outing (very rare) I'd carry a second set. If I went for the 4-emitter design, then 8 x 18650 would give me a burn time ~2h.

    So perhaps I can divide my project into two options

    a) A large 6,300lm design:
    7 emitters
    At least 8 x 18650 batteries
    ~120mm dia head
    ~60 minutes burn time

    b) A smaller "only" 3,600lm design:
    4 emitters
    8 x 18650 batteries
    ~50mm dia head
    ~120 minutes burn time

    Perhaps the second one could be made in such a way that the heat could vent in air allowing for above water operation, although this is not important. 4 emitters and 8 batteries will definitely give me a decent runtime, at or over the 2 hour mark.

    Other advantages of the second light would be the ability to use a single hipCC buck driver to drive all 4 emitters, reducing cost and complexity greatly.

    What do you guys have to say about this? I prefer the 4 emitter design for practicality, but the sheer absurdity of having 6,300lm on hand makes me want to build that.

    How bright can I expect a 4 x MCE/P7 light to be? Also, what's the best way to plan the build? How do I go about getting the body and head assemblies machined?
    Last edited by MrNaz; 02-03-2009 at 04:52 AM. Reason: Typo

  7. #7

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by MrNaz View Post
    ...the sheer absurdity of having 6,300lm on hand makes me want to build that.
    http://www.salvosupply.com/inc/sdetail/3168

    Details:
    *200 Watts producing 16,000 lumens at 5600 kelvin
    *Adjustable from 200 to 125 watts
    *Burntimes from 70 to 120 minutes depending on power level

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    ummm, you forgot the biggest detail...

    Price: $6,500.00

    sign me up for a GB - NOT



    Quote Originally Posted by drewskey View Post
    http://www.salvosupply.com/inc/sdetail/3168

    Details:
    *200 Watts producing 16,000 lumens at 5600 kelvin
    *Adjustable from 200 to 125 watts
    *Burntimes from 70 to 120 minutes depending on power level
    the reality of life... 50% +/- of it will be in darkness(unless you have a light!) dba
    - compare lights

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights



    Thats a 21watt Salvo on the left and 4 Q5's using aspherics on the right.

    Now you could use P7's instead but your beam will be more spread out and so diluted. I doubt you will get as bright a hot spot.
    Infact if you compare the beams in the next image the Q5 (top) appears brighter than the P7(centre). (10watt HID left 4 x Q5 aspherics right)


    Flood type lights are pretty crap for diving IMHO. especially in low viz conditions. They dont penetrate very well and cause lots of back scatter further reducing viz. On the other hand they are great for video work in good viz.

    I think you are getting caught up in the whole bigger is better thing. But this is simply not true in a dive light. You have already said you dont have access to CNC. What about a lathe? If not how are you going to build it?
    Getting someone else to do it will cost you big time. Once again I come back to a maglite head. All you need is simple tools that you would already have. You may even be able to squeez 3 P7s with reflector into one.
    Last edited by Packhorse; 02-03-2009 at 12:34 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Packhorse View Post
    Once again I come back to a maglite head. All you need is simple tools that you would already have. You may even be able to squeez 3 P7s with reflector into one.
    Agreed. The fellow wanted absurdity, I showed absurdity. I believe that light is used for video.

    P4 Tri-Star Heatsink for Maglite C 4Sevens.Com While I am not familiar w/the difference in stars sizes between the P4 and P7, this would at least be a start.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic MrNaz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Packhorse View Post
    I think you are getting caught up in the whole bigger is better thing. But this is simply not true in a dive light. You have already said you dont have access to CNC. What about a lathe? If not how are you going to build it?
    Getting someone else to do it will cost you big time. Once again I come back to a maglite head. All you need is simple tools that you would already have. You may even be able to squeez 3 P7s with reflector into one.
    Perhaps I am.

    If you can get that light out of a 4 x Q5 array, then perhaps I should have a look at my Miniwave again. I have 3 x P4 emitters in it, perhaps I could get better value out of it by changing the resistor or getting a buck driver instead.

    I don't know what bin my P4s are, how would I go about finding out? How then would I decide the best way to wire them up? They are mounted on a PCB in parallel, so I guess a 3.7v driver putting out 3A would be a good start, but I don't know if such a thing exists other than the hipCC which would be too expensive a part for this use. Any ideas on how to improve the output coming out of this light?

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    The reason mine is so bright is because it is so tightly focused. Its about 8 deg with minimal spill.

    Im also over driving them at 1400ma which increases the output at the cost of life span.

    If you can try adding one of the aspheric lenses I used in my light over one of your P4's. This way you will get a nice spot but still some flood from the others. Or perhaps try 2 aspherics or even 3. How big is the lens in the miniwave? It may be too small.
    You could try changing the P4s for a better bin but my guess is there will not be all that much difference. Im not sure the miniwave would be a good candidate for further mods.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic MrNaz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Packhorse View Post
    The reason mine is so bright is because it is so tightly focused. Its about 8 deg with minimal spill.

    Im also over driving them at 1400ma which increases the output at the cost of life span.

    If you can try adding one of the aspheric lenses I used in my light over one of your P4's. This way you will get a nice spot but still some flood from the others. Or perhaps try 2 aspherics or even 3. How big is the lens in the miniwave? It may be too small.
    You could try changing the P4s for a better bin but my guess is there will not be all that much difference. Im not sure the miniwave would be a good candidate for further mods.
    I have a few questions:

    When you say aspheric, do you mean parabolic? From high school I remember that parabolic and spherical lenses were the most useful for imaging and optics. Is that the case?

    You suggest a mag head. How would that work for waterproofing? The reason I thought the Miniwave was a good candidate is that the lamp assembly is removable and so I can work on it without risking compromising the body or seals.

    Also, you say that a MCE can't be focussed due to the large die size, but Cutter has some optics for the MCE that can do a tight beam. This page has a 10deg collimator and a 5deg reflctor, both designed for the MCE:

    http://www.cutter.com.au/products.php?cat=47

    Would there be any problems using those parts to put together a dive light with a focussed beam using one or more MCE emitters?

  14. #14
    Flashaholic gillestugan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    The specs at cutter are not always accurate. The "5" degree polymer reflector is in fact 10 degrees FWHM (data sheet) The "10" degree is 20 FWHM. (datasheet)
    You may want to look at the huge MC-E optics test made by ifor at MTBR. It covers most of the MC-E optics available.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by MrNaz View Post
    I have a few questions:......
    As I suggested earlier, go have a look through some of the threads I have started. I am only interested in dive lights and so the are all dive related. In particular... http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=203029

    http://sods.freeforums.org/here-we-go-again-t610.html

    http://sods.freeforums.org/diy-led-can-t448.html

  16. #16

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    I'm also interested in a good dive light. I have some good information on modding one of the Intova torch dive lights. They are good to 100meters I think and put out decent light out of the box. The information I have includes a mod that will turn it into a dual mode high powered light using different batteries, leds, and driver. My biggest hurdle right now is the information I have is incomplete. I have information on the batteries and leds but not which driver was used for the mod. It supposedly will put out aprox 900 lumins on high and about 225 lumins on low. I'm pretty new to the idea of modding flashlights so if anyone has any ideas for a good driver to help. I wouldn't have any problems sharing any of the info I have.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    I got some driver info for my first light project if anyone is interested. I'll post a list of the parts needed this afternoon. It's not the driver I was initially interested in but it will get me started anyway.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Hmm, sounds like its a P7 mod.
    I tried a P7 mod on a IST light which is very similar to the Intova. Wasnt all that impressed to be honest. Infact the Q5 aspheric blew it away. Tighter beam, brighter spot, longer run time!

  19. #19

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Yes it's a P7. I'm very new to this and this is my very first flashlight mod attempt. It won't be my last and I'm sure that I'll try some others and become more educated in the process.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    I've heard that some people have had issues getting some of the Intova lights open (and that they perhaps started gluing the heads on to stop people modding them).

    Did you have any issues getting the head off your Intova? Was it one of the ones that you find on ebay?

  21. #21

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    I haven't gotten it yet. Still assembling the parts to get started on the mod.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Leons_Bad_Side View Post
    Yes it's a P7. I'm very new to this and this is my very first flashlight mod attempt. It won't be my last and I'm sure that I'll try some others and become more educated in the process.
    Likewise, I am also new to this and am working on a few projects including a mod of a King Pelican 8D housing. I was never satisfied with the beam pattern of either the spot or the flood reflectors available for this light and am of the opinion that if it can fit in there it should go in there.
    The housing has a two position switch so I propose to build two lights into the housing. One, a 3 x 3 cree q5 with 3 Khatod medium 35mm optics with a 3 A driver for each triad spaced @ 120 degrees. Two, 4 cree r2's each with its own 1 A driver and 23m optic as a spot beam.
    The problem I face however is the switch is not readily replaceable(due to waterproofing issues) and is not rated to handle the power demanded by the leds in either circuit. The solution I am working on is to use a darlington pair of transistors for each cluster to switch the circuit with the stock switch controling the base connection of the transistor pairs. The housing can easily hold the leds, optics, drivers,transistors,and plenty of heat sink material as well as room for up to 38 sub-c nimh cells.
    Needless to say it's all very complicated and not very practical. But I'm having loads of fun trying to pull it together. Feel free to chime in with any questions or suggestions (keep it polite, please). Stay tuned.


    What do ya mean, "it's not bright enough"?

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Why not use a MOSFET?

  24. #24

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    You're not gonna want to run the power through the switch. The switch should control the driver. You need a decent constant current driver anyways, the switch will just control the Enable pin. It would be a terrible idea to build this very expensive system then control the current with resistors which are inefficient, hot, and don't provide decent current regulation.

    The current required for the Enable pin is trivial. You could do this with a magnetic reed or magnetic Hall Effect switch on the inside and just have a magnet on the outside with no connection at all to potentially leak.

    You'll really want "Protected" 18650 cells. There are issues putting li-ion in parallel unless they're welded together, but welding then causes issues with their protection circuits. So really what I'd suggest is 8 series cells, and all the LEDs in series with a single driver like an HB9910b.

    This is solely a buck converter so its output voltage cannot exceed input. The 8x pack could in theory be as low as 22v near the end which limits you to 6x LEDs at 3.4v (if you're trying to drive them harder you'd need a bit more voltage). If you really need more LEDs, it would be best to make 2 strings and have one driver per string rather than trying to parallel them with one driver. Complicated but very real technical problems with that idea.

    A constant-current driver combined with protected cells will make a light that is always at 100% full brightness then shuts off suddently, with no dimming or warning. So you may want to add some sort of battery gauge. However, battery gauges are a bit problematic too, since cell imbalances can result in strong voltages on one cell up to the point where the weakest cell reaches the shutdown voltage and the protection circuit kills the power for the whole string. The total pack voltage may not be all that low though.

    You could potentially charge these inside the device, but due to limitations of the protection circuit it's kinda limited to trickle-charging. Charge times may be excessively long. If you have easy, waterproof-sealed battery access, you can drop them out, but most chargers take only 2 cells so you'll need 4x chargers.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    I've been building dive lights for 2 years now and I use only cree Led's in my lights. I have for my own personal light a 3 MCE light that has a 2400 lumen output... Its dang ass bright and sometimes WAY too much light for diving. The cost to build this light was about 250.00 american. In my opin 3 XRE stuffed into a housing is plenty of light !!!! I make 4 led XRE and even that one is too bright.. So to make a dive light with 7 MCE or 4 P7 is just not needed... I will post pictures when I get home cause I am posting from my blackberry...

  26. #26

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights









  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Linger's Avatar
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    Default battery info?

    H2Odoctor

    thanx for the info, and +1 for the beam shots. You're right, lights can be too bright for night diving.
    would you be willing to post a build list for that light?
    cutter (link posted previously in thread) offers a nice 3xre board and they've got some interesting looking optics too. I ask because your beam looks hella bright but how well does it hold up in cloudy water? I was wondering about a two spot + one flood set up.
    And, multi-mode to turn it down, questions I'll ask in another thread.

    Best,
    L
    Last edited by Linger; 03-13-2009 at 12:49 AM.

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    Default Re: battery info?

    I have dove with H20Doc in very low vis conditions. His light was very bright. I am actually diving with one of his single led lights and it is impressive.

  29. #29
    Unenlightened UKBob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Quote Originally Posted by H20doctor View Post
    I have for my own personal light a 3 MCE light that has a 2400 lumen output...
    i too would be interested in a short build thread on your dive lamp as i'm currently working on a x3 emitter light but as yet not sure whether to use P7's or MC-E's

    regards
    bob

  30. #30

    Default Re: Mother of all scuba lights

    Hey sunnydude nice to see you here on the board.. My MCE light was a custom from the ground up.. Due to build designs and stuff, I am in the process of patent and protection my designs.. But every thing in my light can purchased from deal extreem.. Other than the light housing and the battery components.. As for the light cutting through the bad vis of puget sound .. Its a lighthouse in foggy weather. As I stated earlier its too much light for shooting Pictures because it has a tendency to wash out the critters. If you have ever dove with a 50 watt Salvo , my light is brighter , and more Blinding.. OUCH .. It was a good project to build ,but it took 3 months to do and I will not be building another one

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