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Thread: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    You may be familiar with the LunaSol lights from McGizmo:



    The last (or latest ) of the Piston-Drive series, the LunaSols' 2-in-1 beams are extremely useful since they can provide close-up floodlight as well as a decent amount of throw. But their original drivers, and the design constraints imposed by the Piston-Drive design, limit the LunaSols to a single brightness setting for each of their emitters. The Centauri mod changes that.

    The Centauri mod replaces the original high-power driver board with a custom-programmed 3-speed GDuP driver, allowing modified LunaSols (outfitted with a C-Pak from McGizmo) to have low, medium, and high throw settings in addition to the low flood setting. The throw settings are accessed by leaving the head tightened all the way and blinking the light quickly from one setting to the next using the tail switch. The flood setting is accessed by loosening the head slightly. You can switch between throw and flood while the light is on or off, it makes no difference to the electronics.

    Modified LS27s will be fitted with drivers programmed for 90/300/1000mA; modified LS20s will be fitted with drivers programmed for 68/225/750mA, as a compromise between their more efficient emitters and their smaller thermal mass. The highest brightness settings will make the lights noticeably warm during sustained use, but that's all; in my testing, there was no indication that the extra heat would have any long-term effects on the lights.

    I recommend having a C-Pak you can dedicate to use with your LunaSol Centauri. Based on my testing as well as Don's testing on a similar setup a couple years ago, trying to hold the PD button perfectly in-place to keep from accidentally blinking the light and triggering a mode-change isn't very practical; however, opinions differ on this somewhat and at least one person who's gotten the Centauri mod thinks it works just fine with a PD Pak. If you're interested in this mod but you don't have a C-Pak yet, Don still had a few available for sale the last time I checked with him. If you think you'll want to use a C-Pak, please make sure you already have one or that you can get one from Don before signing up for this mod, because I don't have any spares I can sell. Here is a link to his C-Pak sales thread, for reference: McGizmo C-Paks

    This mod costs $86 including parts, labor, and insured shipping to the USA. If you live outside the USA and you're interested in this mod, please let me know so I can give you a cost estimate that includes insured shipping to your country. I'd prefer to perform this mod in batches, assuming there is enough interest to justify it, because that means I can minimize both the number of parts orders I have to make and the number of parts I have to order ahead-of-time. To that end, I'm going to let this float for a week before doing anything else with it, and if you'd like to have your LunaSol modded, please post a reply including the model, so I can order the appropriate numbers of each driver.

    - - -

    FAQ:

    Is this mod reversible? Yes, but it will require someone with reasonable soldering skills to re-attach the original high-power driver.

    Do I get the original driver back? Yes, unless you tell me you don't want it back, in which case it will be labelled according to its origin and put into a pillbox for safekeeping. I can't guarantee, however, that I'll manage to keep track of them forever, so if you think you might want the original driver someday, don't ask me to hang onto it for you.

    I have a first-run LS20; can I get the Centauri mod? Yes. First-run LS20s have a high-power driver that can't handle Li-Ion batteries, but the low-power driver can handle Li-Ions. So, since this mod replaces the original high-power driver, it makes an excellent upgrade path for first-run LS20s.

    What kinds of batteries are supported by the GDuP driver? 3V-4.2V (R)CR123s; RCR123s should have protection circuits, because the driver doesn't have a built-in low-voltage cutoff.

    I really really like my PD Pak; are you sure it won't work? As previously stated, at least one person likes using it with a PD Pak, and that's fine of course, but my personal preference is to use a C-Pak. The main difference in functionality between the PD Pak and the C-Pak is: with the PD Pak, you have easy access to both floodlight and spotlight modes, but if your thumb slips the spotlight may change brightness unintentionally; whereas, with the C-Pak, there's no concern about unintentional brightness changes, but to switch between floodlight and spotlight you have to twist the head. This can be done with a single hand easily enough, so it's not the inconvenience it might sound like at first -- I actually hold the light backwards in my hand and turn the Pak instead of the head, because the clip gives me better grip. It's your call whether you want to use a PD Pak or a C-Pak, and again, I prefer the C-Pak, but if you want to use a PD Pak anyway I'll still be happy to mod your light.

    What if I like twisty lights? Would this mod work for me? Yes, this mod works fine as a twisty light. In a twisty setup, the UI would work like so: tighten the head a little to turn-on the floodlight, then tighten more to turn on the spotlight, then loosen and re-tighten within 2 seconds to switch to the next brightness level. For the minimum possible size, a Twisty Pak could even be used; if someone with a LunaSol as well as an original McLux3-T wants to try marrying them up together, I'd be happy to mod their LunaSol head for them -- and take pictures of the resulting masterpiece.

    How do the new brightness levels compare to the originals? Per Don's original specs in the LunaSol expo thread (click here), the LS27's original high-power driver outputs 425mA and the LS20's outputs 400mA. The new drivers only exceed these settings on their highest settings, the LSC27 by 235% and the LSC20 by a more conservative 188%. Aside from the difference in thermal mass between the two lights, the reasons for going with a full amp on the LSC27 are: 1) Cree XR-E emitters are a well-known quantity at this point and have been pushed this hard many, many times before; 2) The XR-E's integrated optic + the XR17 reflector are much better optimized for throw than the LS20's Golden Dragon + McR12 reflector are; and 3) it's really nice to have a thrower when you need one, especially when you can just bump it back down a notch for long, cool operation during normal use.

    Why is the lowest brightness so high? The stock GDuP's low setting is 10mA! Well, I tested a stock GDuP driver to start with, and I discovered that not only was the middle setting (180mA) just barely bright enough to overpower the floodlight, but the low setting got completely lost in the floodlight. So I compressed the brightness range upwards to make sure that all three of the high-power brightness settings would be brighter than the floodlight. I can't guarantee that everyone will be perfectly happy with the brightness settings I've chosen, but I can guarantee that I'm perfectly happy with them.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 02-19-2012 at 06:22 PM. Reason: Adjusted price for 2012, from $82 to $86

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Here are some LunaSol Centauri-related pictures:

    LS27 on a C-Pak:




    LS20 on a C-Pak:




    Close-up of the "LSC" label on the driver, indicating the Centauri mod was done:


    LSC20 vs. LSC27 modes, flood/low/med/high (in that order);



    Last edited by fyrstormer; 06-26-2010 at 02:08 PM.

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    (reserved)
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 07-03-2011 at 08:13 AM.

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    Flashaholic* ninemm's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    So glad you've got this setup fyrstormer! Wish you all the best on this venture.

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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    PM's exchanged, light shipped.

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    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Quote Originally Posted by scout24 View Post
    PM's exchanged, light shipped.
    heheh...you had me worried there for a second, until I remembered we'd already made arrangements via PM.

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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Sorry about that, just showing some enthusiasm!!!

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Ah, don't worry about it, I just had a split-second reaction like "no! no! wait! you're supposed to sign up first!"

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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    The silly quote mark in my last post were me trying to quote a post I made last August... I was and am a huge fan of the LS20, but was humbly suggesting more levels, and this is as close as anyone has come... I lack the technical understanding to bring it to fruition, but can't wait to see this in person and use it.

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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Very interested - but currently my LS20 & C-Pak are at Modomag's for coating. I also have a coated LS27 - so depending on coating match I may decide to upgrade the LS27 or LS20.

    In your original posting for the LS27 (I believe) on this in the McGizmo forum you referenced the original power settings I believe. Could you include those in the above posting so we have some idea of how much you are bumping the power?


  11. #11
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Sure; scroll up to the FAQ.

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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    LS20 and LS27 run 18ma. on low. LS27 runs 425ma. on high, while LS20 runs 400ma. on high.

  13. #13

    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    What type(s) of batteries can you use with this mod?
    I'm glad it is dark, half of the time.

  14. #14
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    3V-4.2V (R)CR123s; RCR123s should have protection circuits, because the driver doesn't have a built-in low-voltage cutoff.

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    Flashaholic* blitzlicht65's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    I have a C-Pak.

    Now I need only a LS20-head.


    Great idea and great workmanship.

    I'm in if I found a LS20-head.



    Dirk

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    Flashaholic Russki's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    It is very nice and interesting mod.
    I made some changes to my LS20. High power led was replaced with XP-G R5,
    Also 3 low mod leds was replaced with single XP-G R5
    Am I crazy or what?

    Anyway, I am interested in 3-speed GDuP driver upgrade for this light.
    Thanks

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Wow, that's different. How well does the XP-G work with just 18mA to run on? You should post some beamshots in the McGizmo forum.

    Anyway, I added you to the list.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* ShineOnYouCrazyDiamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Do you have the ability to mod these with warmer LEDs in both the spot and flood modes in addition to the driver changes.

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    I'm afraid I don't; I've never attempted to disassemble the front half of a LunaSol head, and I'd hate to mess up someone's light while trying it for the first time.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* ShineOnYouCrazyDiamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    I'm afraid I don't; I've never attempted to disassemble the front half of a LunaSol head, and I'd hate to mess up someone's light while trying it for the first time.
    Understandable - I did some searching and it appears to be pretty difficult to mod the Lunaols (especially the 20) anyway.

    Mine's on its way 2nd (or possible 3rd) hand so I'll have to check it out and maybe we'll see about the modding - sounds like a nice setup.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic Russki's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    Wow, that's different. How well does the XP-G work with just 18mA to run on? You should post some beamshots in the McGizmo forum.

    Anyway, I added you to the list.
    Hello fyrstormer.

    After some thinking I decided leave my moded LS20 alone, and go with LS27 instead, if that ok with you. C-pack looks better on LS27 IMHO.
    Let me know when to send it.
    Regarding my mod on LS20, XP-G less bright than original LEDs, but provide enough light for my liking, lower output was payback for fitting in XP-G R5 with MCR 18.
    Thanks for offering this great mod.

  22. #22
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Russki, I moved you to the LS27 list.

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    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    scout24, I received and modded your LS20 this evening. It is relaxing on the workbench for the moment. I'll try to ship it tomorrow, if I can get five minutes to myself at work.

    If anyone else is considering this mod and/or has any questions about it, please post or PM me in the next couple of days so I can get things hashed out and include you in my next parts order.

  24. #24

    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    This mod sounds wonderful and I like the switch feel of McClicky, except the look of LS head on C pak. Maybe I'm so accustomed to PD look.

    Quote Originally Posted by Russki View Post
    Hello fyrstormer.

    After some thinking I decided leave my moded LS20 alone, and go with LS27 instead, if that ok with you. C-pack looks better on LS27 IMHO.
    Let me know when to send it.
    Regarding my mod on LS20, XP-G less bright than original LEDs, but provide enough light for my liking, lower output was payback for fitting in XP-G R5 with MCR 18.
    Thanks for offering this great mod.
    light your lite . ...

  25. #25
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Paypal sent, I'll be waiting by the mailbox... Va. is a little too far to drive to pick it up. Mini review to follow!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    If anyone else wants in on this, I'm placing the parts order tomorrow, so speak now or hold your peace until I get around to doing another run.

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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Fyrstormer-I received mine in the mail today, along with the original driver, safe and sound. Thanks! Being me, the first thing I did after playing with it for a few minutes and comparing brightness levels against my other LS20 and several other lights, was to try the PD pak on the light. After about an hour of playing with it, I think you are selling the utility of this mod on the stock PD short.
    For me, the PD works beautifully. I can toggle through the levels fine, and the modified GDUP has the ability for me to "Set and forget" the high level. That said, I can set the high level by pressing through the choices, and the driver remembers my last choice. So, I can set high to level one,("mizer") and whenever I hit the piston for high, there is my chosen level. I can also toggle through to high with the PD, ("turbo") and it remembers my choice. I pick up the light 5 minutes later, and "turbo" is still there as the high level choice. I personally feel there is a learned ability with the PD to choose just low, without engaging high, that everyone with Don's PD's learns, kind of a calibrated "McGizmo Thumb"...
    I understand that you wanted to be clear and have everyone use the Clicky Pak to eliminate skipped levels, or not engaging unwanted output, and having to cycle back around to what they wanted, but who hasn't accidentally engaged high, or wanted to go from high to low on a stock PD and missed? There was, for me, a bit of a learning curve with the PD's when I got my first, and I think if you can run your own light comfortably with the PD in stock form, that this mod shouldn't present a problem. EG: If you can go from high to low and back consistently with your PD without releasing through low to off, you can handle this mod with a PD pak no problem. This is my humble opinion, and should be taken as such, but my Clicky pak is going back in the safe.
    I now have a "Mizer" LS20 when wanted, and a "Turbo" when wanted, and a middle level damn close to stock, as well. Nicely done, and Thank You! If anyone is on the fence, and is near Rockland or Orange county, NY and wants to try this in person, shoot me a PM...

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    It's interesting to have your perspective on the PD vs C-Pak issue, scout. I guess I tend to err on the side of caution moreso than a lot of people, so my preference was for the "without a doubt" functionality of the C-Pak's clicky switch, being able to know for sure that the light isn't going to change modes on me if my thumb slips. To me, that's worth trading away the ability to switch from flood to spot by pressing harder on the button. After finding out that Don's experience was the same, I concluded it was the only "good" setup for the Centauri mod.

    However, someone pointed out to me via PM that the Centauri mod would work just fine with a PD pak if the user primarily uses the twisty functionality, and now you've said that you're satisfied with the PD functionality as well, so I guess I should retract my prior assertion that the C-Pak is the only feasible Pak to use with a Centauri head.

    If you continue to use your LSC20 with a PD Pak, I'd be interested to know if the inevitable split-second flickers that occur when twisting the head cause the driver to change modes. Logic says they should, but it's possible they'll happen so fast the driver won't ever really "switch off", so it won't change modes. Feel free to post more updates as you see fit.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear you like it, and so too I'm sure are the other people who've signed up for the Centauri mod.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 07-01-2010 at 08:10 PM.

  29. #29
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    Parts order placed for dcaprilia and Russki.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: "Centauri" 3-speed mod service for McGizmo LunaSols.

    After another day's use, I am completely happy with the PD. If I use it as a twisty, it works fine for me too. I can always twist around to the needed level, haven't noticed the flicker. One does need to twist with a purpose to change high levels, (quickly) but nothing that you can't get used to. I am actually enjoying tap tap tapping through the high levels, I miss occasionally, but not enough to be a bother. Just gotta get used to it! I'll post a pic on my McLux III Ti Twisty body later...

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