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Thread: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

  1. #1

    Default [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    I am looking to build a pair of LED Canister lights for my father and myself. I have been scouring the Internet for all the information I can find on building one. The only problem is most of the tutorials I have found are super old (and specific for halogen lights) and things change quick. The best information I have found has been here on CPF especially concerning LED's, Drivers, etc. The mechanics and machining are the easy part for me but I have quite a few questions regarding the LED, driver, wiring, battery, etc.

    I'm planning on using PVC for the canister and a D cell Mag for the light head. I'll be using it for recreational night diving and not cave/wreck diving or photos/video. I'll be using it mostly in the Pacific Northwest in the Puget Sound/Hood Canal. I want something that is really bright but still want a good balance between that and battery life.


    Here are the parts that I was thinking about using for the electronics:


    LED: SST-90 from DX (Part# 47961).


    Driver: Considering either the H6Flex, DIWdiver's IS1006, or the Der Wichtel 9A Buck Converter.


    Reflector: I saw that someone else had used the DX 52.8*41.5 (Part# 13803) on an SST-90 canister light. Another user also recommended the DX 53*30 (Part# 18841) for a "tighter beam" with an SST-90. The other one I also saw recommended somewhere was one from zbattery (Part# 108-846) since it's deep. Which one of these would give me the best beam with an SST-90?


    Battery: This is probably the area where I could use the most advice. I found an 11.1V Sanyo 18650 5200MAH 3S2P that I was hoping would be sufficient (Ebay Item# 220792321517).


    Battery Charger: What charger would everyone recommend?


    The big question I have is if this configuration would work well together? What could I expect as far as battery life?
    Would anyone recommend a different route altogether as far as LED, Driver, Battery? I figured I would solicit advice before I take this project on since many of you have built these and have loads of experience/knowledge to share.
    I know that's a ton of questions so any recommendations, suggestions, and feedback is very much appreciated!

  2. #2

    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    All of the above can work, but your going to get a matrix of opinions do to the number of combinations. Remember, many are here because we don't like the "current" features available and want to be different with different needs and we question everything.

    Like...
    Why a canister light for recreational diving?
    Why an sst-90 vs XM-L?
    Why a reflector vs an aspheric?
    Why that battery pack vs a custom built one?
    What of all those drivers do you like?

    How do you intend to power on or off?



    So unless your set on jumping in and building (like many of us did) I'd rather start with the more interesting questions:
    How do you define bright?
    How wide a beam do you really want.... camera or spot the primary use?
    Do you want variable focus?
    What is the duration of burn you'd like to have?
    Do you want to use the light out of water at all?
    Do you really want a canister? (Or just think you need one for duration?)

    With that list.... why do you want to build vs buy? there are some good lights for reasonable prices that may fit your needs that you are unaware of....

    Start with the above questions and let the solution present itself ;-)

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Codiak View Post

    Thanks for the reply. I have been doing projects like this for years and enjoy making things myself. This is, however, the first light I have built so I'm just learning about all this now.

    Why a canister light for recreational diving?
    I like the Goodman handle and don't want a ton of bulk in/on my hand. That and the versatility.

    Why an sst-90 vs XM-L?
    I'm not 100% set on the SST-90, that's why I'm looking for a little feedback first. I also have looked at the xm-l or maybe even a 3*xm-l setup.

    Why a reflector vs an aspheric?
    I am open to an aspheric, haven't looked into them much yet.

    Why that battery pack vs a custom built one?
    The battery pack I found seems like a great option at $42 pre-assembled. Again, I'm not opposed to building my own but from my little research it seems like it would cost more to build.

    What of all those drivers do you like?
    I don't know a ton about drivers since I am just learning this stuff but was leaning towards the H6Flex (if I go with the SST-90). At 6.6A it seems like it would but out a fair amount of power and not completely wreck the battery.

    How do you intend to power on or off?
    Toggle switch.

    How do you define bright?
    Turning night into day?

    How wide a beam do you really want.... camera or spot the primary use?
    See where I'm going...."spot the primary use".

    Do you want variable focus?
    Not important.

    What is the duration of burn you'd like to have?
    Around two hours or enough for two dives.

    Do you want to use the light out of water at all?
    No.

    Do you really want a canister? (Or just think you need one for duration?)
    Yes.

    With that list.... why do you want to build vs buy? there are some good lights for reasonable prices that may fit your needs that you are unaware of....
    The same reason everyone else on here builds; I want to because I can. I enjoy making things and even given the same cost I would build my own over buy...
    Again,forgive my ignorance on this. I'm still a noob when it comes to lights but we all start somewhere.


    Sent from my Xoom 4G using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Ferradinho; 01-27-2012 at 06:07 PM.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* DIWdiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    For a small simple light, a single LED with aspheric is hard to beat. You can play with the focus while building, then lock it down when you are happy with it, and you'll get a nice beam. If you want a dim halo of spill around the beam, leave the inside if the head bare aluminum. If not, paint it flat black. And if you want a lot of light, the SST-90 can't be beat today (in this type of light).

    Three XM-Ls will beat the SST in both lumen output and efficiency, but at the cost of a more complex and less optimized optic

    As the maker of the IS1006 I can say I wouldn't recommend it with an SST-90 and lithium cells. It was designed for the SST and a 4S NiMH pack, and can rival switchers for efficiency in that setup, but with LiIon the voltages just don't work out. With a 2S battery, the efficiency sucks, and with a 1S pack you start to lose light before the battery is even half drained. Switchers are the way to go. Taskled has a great reputation and offers multimode operations, but on a canister light with a toggle switch, multimode may not be an advantage. Der Wichtel's driver looks great for this application, and would give noticably brighter output (and less battery life). I just haven't heard any feedback from actual users. Then again, I haven't been looking for it.

    Now, if you are talking XM-L, the story is different, because the forward voltage is so much lower. I don't know of anyone who's actually done it yet, but the IS1006 should be pretty good with a 1S LiIon pack (but not LiFe) and a single XM-L. A 1S3P 18650 pack would be very small, but run an XM-L at 3A for 2+ hours. Reconfigure that 3S2P pack you're looking at to 1S6P, and you'd get 4 hours. Light would begin to diminish near the end of that period, and would continue to diminish for a while afterward, rather than cutting off suddenly. I don't know what Taskled or DW drivers would do.

    My next light is going to be a single 26650 (LiMnNi, or IMR), single XM-L, aspheric, and driver similar to IS1006, and I expect full output (1000 lm) for around an hour.

    As far as batteries go, what you are looking at represents the state of the art, but not the bleeding edge. To me that's a good place to be. I didn't check out your link but I'd be cautious about buying batteries on eBay. There appears to be a substantial difference between good batteries and cheap ones in safety, lifetime, and capacity. Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer.

    For chargers, you probably want to be looking at 'hobby chargers'. They have the maximum flexibility for various configurations. If you are really sure you only want one particular battery configuration, you could save a few dollars and buy a charger dedicated to that configuration. Most sites that sell batteries also sell chargers like this. But if you are a builder, experimenter, and always looking to the next project, I doubt you would regret buying a good hobby charger.

    D

  5. #5

    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    So DIW has good advice as usual. My last build was a single 32650 powering an XML and I get around two hours, plus using the lflex driver from taskled I can extend the time with a lower mode.

    All that said you have clearly articulated your desire and have the right attitude.

    My latest build may in fact be closer to what your looking for though.
    Mag head, on a goodman handle with a canister. The I'm using a 7 x XPG pcb from Germany with 3 choices of optics giving me a wide range of options. Couple this with a max flex driver and a hallsw from taskled and it's a freaking bright light. Battery pack is 4s2p and I got nice burn time. Poor heatsinking has me waiting for a replacement driver

    You can look at tlslights.com for a better lens and orings, plus 360xfire can make you a custom battery pack at a reasonable rate. For that matter battery packs aren't that hard or costly to fab yourself.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* 350xfire's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    All good points. Only word of caution is that for the money you are going to spend, you can get about 5 SST-50 or 90 "flashlight-type" of lights that will do fine for recreational diving. The goodman handle you can fab up yourself. Plus then there is the DIY learning factor where you spend $300-400 on building a light and it floods the first time you dive it and all the electronics are fried!

    It's cool to build your own stuff but be warned that, compared to what is already available, you may just be throwing good money after bad!

    With that said, I do enjoy building stuff!
    http://tlslights.com/ your source for quality affordable dive lights, Mag-lite conversions and weapon lights. Now a Federal Firearms Dealer.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Klem's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    +1

    Building your own... be prepared to be immediately unsatisfied as soon as you finish, then you realise you are addicted!

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* DIWdiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Klem View Post

    Building your own... be prepared to be immediately unsatisfied as soon as you finish, then you realise you are addicted!
    +1, ,

    Hi, my name is Don and I'm a flashaholic....

    Welcome to the support group!

  9. #9

    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    +1 too! I spent a lot of $$ on my (two) DIY lights that I could have already bought two 10W Light Monkey canister lights. However, I like building things so I chalk it up for entertainment/hobby. You'll buy parts, break them and then rebuy them or figure out that you've bought parts that you later found out it wasn't going to work out.

    Get the battery from Allbattery or 350xfire -- just buy protected batteries. I'm assuming you're going put it in a maglite so head over to tlslights.com and you can find the necessary parts there to make your maglite waterproof.

    I used an Otterbox for my canister and it's fine for me. Without the necessary tools, it was very difficult for me to build my own PVC canister -- I was having a hard time with aligning the latches and making a hole for the cable gland and switch.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Klem View Post
    +1

    Building your own... be prepared to be immediately unsatisfied as soon as you finish, then you realise you are addicted!
    Ha! I'm sure I will be. It will probably go like this: [Wife] What? You're making another one of those? Do you REALLY need another light? [Me] Uhhh....

    Thanks for the info everyone. Now I just need to compute it all and figure out what route I want to go with this build. I might just end up using an XM-L for my "first" light and figure out a configuration that works for what I want.

    Sent from my LTE Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    Will you be using a lathe? Can you cut threads?

    If yes then consider using a W300 ultrafire as the light head instead of the mag light. It has a great reflector that works well with any LED and is smaller than a maglite. It does not work well with an aspheric though.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Packhorse View Post
    Will you be using a lathe? Can you cut threads?

    If yes then consider using a W300 ultrafire as the light head instead of the mag light. It has a great reflector that works well with any LED and is smaller than a maglite. It does not work well with an aspheric though.
    I was actually looking at the W300 as well as a possible option for the light head. But unfortunately I no longer have access to a lathe.

    Sent from my HTC Rezound using Tapatalk.
    Last edited by Ferradinho; 01-29-2012 at 12:21 PM.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Q] DIY LED Canister Light - Feedback/Recommendations needed...

    In that case the Maglite is probably the best solution.

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