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Thread: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

  1. #1
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    Default HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    I thought I would open this thread in the hopes that it would become a "repository" or a "body of knowledge". Rather than questions, it would primarily be a place to publish what we have learned for the benefit of all CPFers.

    It would contain such things as:

    o Step-by-step instructions on how you successfully built or modified a flashlight.

    o Tips and tricks on how to correctly identify + and - on components; built jigs to hold a work piece; better ways to mix and apply epoxy; etc.

    o Definitions and explanations of terminology such as AWG, Vf, Vin, anode, cathode, etc.

    I suggest that the first line of the post contain a heading that would help the reader quickly get a feel for the subject of the post. (Note: I am not talking about the title of the thread - just the heading inside the post.)

    For examples:

    "PROJECT: How I built my own McLux"
    "PROJECT: How I modified a MagLite 2AA using BB400 and Q3"
    "TIP: Preparing wires for soldering"
    "TRICK: Appling epoxy"
    "WORKS-FOR-ME: Safely stripping thin gauge wire"
    "DEFINITION: of "EN""
    "DEFINITION: of "Vf""
    "EXPLANATION: of positive and negative"
    "SUPPLIER FOR: thermal epoxy"
    "SUPPLIER FOR: lubricant"
    "PERFORMANCE: Battery life for BB400 and Q3 using 2AA"
    "BEAM SHOTS: BB400/Q3 and BB500/Q3 using NX05"

    On the line after the heading, type your information.
    "
    "
    "
    "

    Another suggestion would be to post NEW DOCUMENTS as a response to this post. This will help to limit the depth of the tree view. Of course, it would be OK to reply to any posted document, but it would keep the tree flatter if NEW documents were attached to the this post.

    Ideally, this will make it easier for us to find answers to questions that have been asked a thousand times. It will also serve as a source for ideas for new projects. If there is enough interest, we might be able to request that the moderator anchor this to the top of the forum so it is always available.

    Well, that's the idea.

    Now, who will be the first to contribute?

    Chuck [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  2. #2
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Great idea chuck

    Now we just gotta convince some of the Mod-Masters to come out of lurking and give us newbs some hints and tips.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    I subscribe to woodworking magazines, and everyone loves to show off their way of doing things, and everyone loves to read about how other people solve common problems. Believe it or not there are many ways to drive a nail.

    Look at it this way, in this forum, we will all appreciate and admire what others have built and the way they built it. For example, if you have built a McLux, I would bet some money that even your mother won't appreciate your work the way we will here. And once you document the steps you went through, they will be read and appreciated again and again.

    Chuck

  4. #4
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    I know what Volts and Amps are, but what is a "Vf"? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

    Chuck

  5. #5

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Forward voltage. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  6. #6
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Thanks for the answer.

    Goes to show you how much electrical theory has changed since I studied years ago. Until now, I was not aware that there was a front and back voltage [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif[/img][img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif[/img][img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif[/img]. There was just voltage.

    Makes sense though. I can just imagine if we were to accidentally use backward voltage the flashlight might blow up! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif[/img]

    Seriously now, could you expound a little more? How is this different from just plain old voltage? If it is necessary for us to say "front voltage" instead of just "voltage", it implies that there is also a "back voltage". Or, is Vf just the new age vernacular?

    (See how dumb us newbies really are?)

    Thanks for your time,

    Chuck

  7. #7

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Chuck,

    Welcome to CPF.

    You will find the full extreme of expertise here. There are probably many newbies like yourself that need to find a good repository of information. Yes, a FAQ is a good idea.

    Unfortunately, there are many things to consider. Right now that is a very low priority as new product development is key #1 objective for me and others I'm associating with.

    My shoppe I would guess is more catered towards the expert modders out there. The ones that have the required skills and are familiar with the products I develop or am part of the development.

    But, I am only a single person (married) and have a full time job. The fruit of the labor you see here has been my part time hobby effort I started back last January. It has grown or what may appear to be a full fledged web store. While in fact it is just opposite of that.

    My customers are almost exclusively CPF'ers.

    You will find the many simple and extremely complicated mods in the Homemade and Modified lights. This is where I posted all my mods along with other fellow CPFers. The only reason to have this dedicated forum is to rather combine the things that were related to stuff I was associated with.

    Wayne

  8. #8
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    [ QUOTE ]
    ...I am only a single person (married) and have a full time job. The fruit of the labor you see here has been my part time hobby effort I started back last January. It has grown or what may appear to be a full fledged web store. While in fact it is just opposite of that.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Wayne,

    Thanks for the reply. Since I only found this group in June, I did not understand your situation. I thought you were a vendor in the traditional sense. So, that puts a whole different light on things. (Was that a pun? LOL [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif[/img] I hope the humor comes through this.) Anyway, I was just trying to help you to sell more product - especially to me. I guess I will just be patient until the light comes on. (Did it again. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead.gif[/img])

    My thought was that other people might like to post their own experiences at making and modding flashlights rather than you taking the time to do it. Wouldn't that be OK?

    Thanks again,

    Chuck

  9. #9
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    ExMB, congratulations on your great achievement of building your own McLux! That is something I have not done yet. Since Dat2zip says I need very good vision, it could be that I will never do what you have done. I certainly have no depth perception at close range since I lost my left eye to a detached retina.

    But that does not impair my wanting to know how you did it. So, if you have time, we sure would like to hear about what you did, what worked, what didn't work, how you improvised, what you would do differently next time, and any advice you can offer to those who would follow in your footsteps.

    Pictures would be great, but they are not as important as your words.

    And once again, ata boy! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/buttrock.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/buttrock.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

    Chuck

  10. #10
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Chuck,
    Good vision doesn't necessarily mean two eyes. I use a magnifier that clips onto my glasses frame. Effectively, I am soldering with one eye. It works great. The only problem is making sure I don't burn the end of my nose with the soldering iron. I say go for it. If I can do it, anyone can.
    Dennis

  11. #11

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Thanks Chuck!

    I got lucky.

    This was the second board for me. I found the following help full:
    <ul type="square">[*]Clamping or securing the convertor board while soldering to it. It helps keep from accidently brushing up against components w/ the iron and de soldering them.[*]Solder all the connections at the board first (before the anode, cathode contacts as they are mush easier to solder than the board connections).[*]I clamped the board vertically and set both neg wires in their connections and solder them at the same time. They are very close and it is easy to flow solder into the empty connection port, making it a bit difficult to attach the second wire.[*]Be exceedingly careful when solder to the capacitor. Folow the advice Wayne gave in another thread about tining the wire, pre placing some solder at the capacitor and making sure to solder to the correct side.[*]I put a little extra Arctic Alumina beneath the positive connection at the LED, just to make sure that if I got too much solder there it wouldn't ground out. I'm not sure if it would have helped, but the peace of mind was worth it.[*]Connect everything before supplying power to the board, I had read that somewhere, forgot it, and I believe that is how I finished off my first board.
    [/list]

    I'm sure you can work around the depth perception issue, I couldn't see what I was doing well because the iron was in the way.

    I also used a 15 watt iron for everything except the cathode ring (25 watter for that big hunk o' metal )

  12. #12
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Good post, ExMB! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

    That's going to be very helpful.

    Chuck

  13. #13
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    [ QUOTE ]
    D-LIGHT said:
    Chuck,
    Good vision doesn't necessarily mean two eyes. I use a magnifier that clips onto my glasses frame. Effectively, I am soldering with one eye. It works great. The only problem is making sure I don't burn the end of my nose with the soldering iron. I say go for it. If I can do it, anyone can.
    Dennis

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thanks for the encouragement, D-LIGHT. On several occasions I have almost ordered the parts, but then I think, some times I can't even tell how far my pencil is above a piece of paper. What business do I have in doing delicate soldering? But your encouragement helps.

    Thanks again,

    Chuck

  14. #14

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    One tip that will save money- always make sure to double-check what gets connected to what. A simple mistake in wiring (Reversing the LS's leads, or the converter's power, for example) can fry the converter and possibly the LS it's attached to. I've managed to kill a few like that, usually when pushing on, late at night when I knew I was too tired. More embarrassing wiring errors involve things like forgetting to connect the BB's cathode to the battery... But I'd never do THAT... Epoxying the light together and THEN finding that out kinda sucked.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Very good advice!

    Chuck

  16. #16

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    [ QUOTE ]
    PsycoBob[Q2] said:
    One tip that will save money- always make sure to double-check what gets connected to what.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Umm, make it "check and recheck and recheck..." [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
    and never do any delicate soldering or modding expensive stuff when you are extremely tired. The chance of getting something wrong is increased exponentialy with respect to your fatique-quity [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]
    also, if you are using adhesive epoxy, make sure you mix the substance as required in the instruction manual. some epoxy will not become hard and stay gooey if you mix them "approximately"


  17. #17
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    What is the meaning of "front voltage" (Vf)?

    Does the word "front" refer to a physical location on the converter board or LED, or is this just the new term for voltage?

    Thanks,

    Chuck

  18. #18

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Vf = forward voltage
    I think it is the voltage drop accross the led or the minimum voltage needed to run the led at least near spec.

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* IsaacHayes's Avatar
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Vf is another word for Vi I belive. (voltage in). Some luxeons have a high Vf, and others have a low Vf. The ones with low Vf will glow brighter at X volts than one with a high Vf at the same X volts. So the lower the Vf the luxeon will pull more power easier.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Good, simple explaination.

    Thanks!

    Chuck [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

  21. #21
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIE

    [ QUOTE ]
    ChuckDecker said:
    What is the meaning of "front voltage" (Vf)?

    Does the word "front" refer to a physical location on the converter board or LED, or is this just the new term for voltage?

    Thanks,

    Chuck

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Vf is one of the specifications of the LED. I think it means "forward voltage", but the more specific definition is the forward voltage at which the LED will be operating at its rated current. For example, if a Luxeon has a 3.6v Vf, it will consume 350 mA at 3.6v. (Note: Even .1 volt above this and it will consume a LOT more, which is why LEDs are best driven with a constant current circuit.)

    Vin is the input voltage to the converter. In step-up designs like the BadBoy and MadMax, Vf should ALWAYS be greater than Vin. If Vin exceeds Vf of the LED plus Vf of the diode in the converter (Usually this is between .2 and .6 volts), the converter no longer does anything and the LED is being directly driven from the input voltage.

    I'm not sure, but I BELIEVE that the Wizard boards are flyback converters, which allow them to operate with Vin both above and below Vf.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIE

    Andy, I really appreciate this explanation - very well written.

    [ QUOTE ]
    If Vin exceeds Vf of the LED plus Vf of the diode in the converter (Usually this is between .2 and .6 volts), the converter no longer does anything and the LED is being directly driven from the input voltage.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    I just ordered a BB500 and R2H and Q4H from the Shoppe. Both of the LEDs are rated at Vf 3.03 - 3.27. The BB500 is rated at Vin 1.6 - 9v with 500ma. Is this OK? It looks like that with a fresh 123 battery, the voltage will be almost perfect for the LEDs. What happens if I were to use 2 or 3 batteries?

    Thanks,

    Chuck

  23. #23
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    How can I tell the difference between the CATHODE and ANODE on an LED?

    For example - Q4H and R2H

    Thanks,

    Chuck

  24. #24
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    The easiest way to tell is if you get the LED still on the star PCB (this is how my R2H and Q4H came), you can just look at the solder pads, as they are marked with either neg. or pos. If you have just the emitter, look at the tabs next to the leads. I think the tab with a hole in is the positive side.
    In answer to your previous post, i think the badboy is a step-up/boost only....if the voltage in goes above a certain level , it goes into bypass mode. Im not sure what the max voltage-in is, but im fairly certain that you can only use 1 cell max with the BB/1 watt LS combo.

  25. #25

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Chuck,

    According to the LS emitter data sheet, there is a small metal tab WITH A HOLE OR SLOT IN IT, on the Anode side of the part.

    By the way, nice to see a fellow citizen of Raytown here!

    -Eric

  26. #26
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Hi Eric. How 'bout that - neighbors!

    I'm thinking I may have bought the wrong thing. This Q4H LED is on a funny looking plate. It doesn't look anything like the instructions for the McLux. Can anybody explain that?

    Thanks,

    Chuck

  27. #27
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Chuck, thats the star PCB that the LEDs are shipped on. you will need to remove the emitter from the board to put it in the mclux.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Simple directions for removing emitter:

    (I've done it twice and I'm new at this, so don't worry -- it's easy!)

    Heat up your soldering slightly and hold it to the bottom of the Luxeon Star (the aluminum sheet on bottom) until it is warm to the touch. It doesn't need to be hot, just warm. There are two copper tabs attached to the emitter that are soldered to the 'star' board. Hold your desoldering iron onto one of the copper tabs and wait until you can see obvious liquid movement around the tab. Then very quickly, with a toothpick, gently pry the copper tab from it's resting place. Do not apply to much force, as you do not want to break the tab off. Repeat the technique with the other end of the emitter. Note: Keep track of which end is positive and which end is negative before you take the emitter off. Continuing on, grab two pairs of pliers. Firmly grip the 'star' on each side of the emitter and twist slightly. The emitter should either pop right off, or you will be able to simply pick it up from it's resting place with your fingers. Good luck! (Oh -- and keep the soldering iron away from the dome of the luxeon heh!)

    [Edit] Just to make sure, your Luxeon does look like the one in the following picture correct?



    (The picture used is from the Elektrolumens site)
    [/edit]

  29. #29

    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    I would suggest an alternative and more safer way to remove the emitter. Heating the whole aluminum to the soldering melting point is ~600F. That also means the slug and thuse the die get to that temperature. Lumileds states that exceeding the 120C (248F) will likely damage the LED. What gets damaged and how I don't know.

    There are very detailed instructions on how to solder the Emitter down without exposing the package and LED to improper temperatures.

    Thus, I recommend the following. Solder wick off the leads till they have very little solder on them. Heat them up and witn a small tool/exacto knife/toothpick pry the LED lead up till it is free. Do this for both ends.

    On the back side score a groove with a file or dremel down the middle parallel to the LED leads.

    Now with a vice or two pliers bend downward the aluminum disk. If you do this correctly the LED will get exposed and further bending will pop the LED off. I usually go far enough where I can see the bottom of the LED and use an exacto to finish the job.

    Wayne

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* LukeK's Avatar
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    Default Re: HOW-TOs, TIPS-and-TRICKS, DEFINITIONS, EXPERIENCES

    Wayne --

    Simply heating up the copper tab for a few seconds seems to be all that is required. Surely that incredibly short amount of time wouldn't damage the LED...right?

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