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Thread: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

  1. #1

    Buttrock Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Intro
    My other (and older) hobby is sports & tactical cutlery. This short pictorial-essay what-have-you is geared towards the cutlery crowd, with the assumption that their knowledge of LED-tech is on average, on par with mine. I doubt that will be the case here at CPF, where most have been enjoying this hobby and science infinitely longer than me. So please take this into consideration when sifting through the text. Feel absolutely free to correct me if/where necessary - I'm always eager to learn more! Worst case, the photos are pretty good...



    Fanatic about Photons
    Fred has been “playing with” things that go bright in the night for quite some time now and a few years back, started to admire the work custom knifemakers were doing and the materials they were investigating to push the art forward. Fred is no stranger to base metals & alloys, having made numerous [flashlight] hosts from stainless, aluminum and Titanium too. He anodized the Titanium, splashed the aluminum, bead-blasted / polished and coated just about everything (using just about everything - PVD, DLC, …).


    (above photos c/o Photonfanatic)

    Fred, being well, “Fred”, wasn’t satisfied making functional art out of just these materials and decided to try his hand at various forms of damascus. There was Mokume Gane (bi / tri-color, using nickel / copper), then came a wave of Chad Nichols' awesome stainless Damascus (nickel & SS). Once he was done with "plain" damascus, he gave mosaic damascus a try and created something so special that it’s making it’s way around the Country to get photographed


    (above photos c/o Photonfanatic)


    Next step in the evolution
    After having admired his work for some time now, particularly with his enthusiasm to try out new materials, I asked him about his thoughts on the various Welded Titanium alloys in use by the knife-making community. Little did I know that thanks to co-damascus-fanatic Scott (aka ScottN), Fred already had organized to get a bar of Chad's MokuTi! Well that certainly got me excited, not to mention Fred had already planned to make a WIP out of it For those of you who are less familiar with the material, Chad is taking a similar pattern-welded technique used for Damascus and applying it to Titanium. For Mokuti, Chad uses industry-standard 6AL4V Ti and layers it with "commercially pure" (CP) Ti. Many knifemakers have used this pattern-welded Ti to make some seriously amazing handles, scales, clips, thumb studs and even pivot-screws (!) for their knives and folders. The only other similar product available is AKS' Timascus - available in white and black (which uses zirconium in the mix).


    Click-the-pics for hi-res goodness.


    Mad Skillz
    If it hasn't dawned on you yet, Fred has a good eye for design and the skills to bring that design from his mind into reality. Amazingly, Fred uses very few machines compared to the average modern knifemaker and (naturally), the machines are geared toward cylindrical objects (you won't find a flat grinder in Fred's shop - heck not even sure he has a "grinder"... hand-polishing, definitely ) Some materials are child's play for him, others give him a bit of a hard time, but no matter what the material, you can bet it will be perfect...




    New horizons
    With every new material comes new adventures; some involve minor effort (material density, hardness etc.) others present interesting challenges. Making Mokuti colorful is one of the latter, as Fred soon found out! Just sifting through his WIP reveals how many color variations you can achieve by changing a few variables, like solution, voltage and yes, even surface finish (matt, polished, ultra-polished...). As I was following his WIP with great interest, I occasionally suggested some color-combos that I thought would be cool; I mentioned Warren Thomas' amazing Alien skin and the color tones he gets out of his [6AL4V] Ti work; I hinted at what Allen Elishewitz had done for me, coming up with some gorgeous MokuTi bolsters (pictured in the last section) and so on.

    After a few weeks of experimentation, Fred did manage to sort out what variables would produce certain color ranges but just as importantly, he learned what many a knifemaker already knew, Mokuti is a beautiful, exotic and unpredictable creature. One can aim for a color-range, but that's as close as you will get with Mokuti; Titanium is not as predictable as the Nickel and steel found in classic damascus...

    Base colors are blue and gold, "interference" colors are purple and green...



    Mad eSkillz
    Fred's hosts are some of the most creative and artistic in the customs-flashlight arena, but he doesn't make hosts, he makes handheld flashlights. Not just any flashlights, but state of the custom-world art ones. The Block Party may be stunning to look at, but it is a formidable powerhouse of a light too. First off, some specs:

    Host: Chad Nichols MokuTi - welded Titanium (Ti alloy & Commercially Pure Ti), Solution anodized
    Length: 120mm (4.7"), diameter: 25mm (1.0")
    Weight: 170g (6.0oz) - including 47g 18650
    Emitter: Cree XM-L (U2 bin) mounted on a 2mm thick MCPCB (Copper base)
    Driver: Three-mode regulated (140mA, 1A, 2.8A), memory mode
    Power Source: 18650 Rechargeable 3.7V battery (1)
    Reflector: 20mm Khatod, stippled (orange peel)
    Output: < 500 lumens (before glass)
    Operation: "Twisty"
    Other: O-ring seals for water resistance, 2mm-thick mineral glass, silicone gasket (instead of commonplace spring)



    While I am no expert in the area of LED flashlights, I'm familiar with the basic principles and will review them for those with a heavier background in knives. Every light has a specific design in mind; illumination of a broad area, of a target area, or a bit of both. This is controlled by several design aspects of a light; the LED type (Emitter), reflector shape, length and surface and the glass ("window"). These properties also affect total / perceived output, along with the driver (which supplies constant current to the emitter) and power source (battery).



    Fred has jumped on the XM-L bandwagon, an emitter that has taken the custom community by storm, thanks mainly to both its efficiency and output capability. Coupled to a relatively hi-current driver, capable of delivering up to 2.8A to the emitter and powered by a 3.7V Li-Ion, Fred's "Light Engine" (LE) can put out an estimated 500 Lumens. In comparison, the typical tactical handheld is rated around 200~250 lumens and classic "incans" (incandescent lights) are rated usually around 60 lumens. Thus, a 500-lumen handheld will certainly light up the neighbor's house... While having that many lumens at your disposal is great, using it is another story. The first problem is that in most circumstances, the light will be too bright... way too bright. Secondly, an Emitter drawing 2.8A will drain even the most beefy of batteries (18650s are typically in the 2000~2600mAh range). I don't know the math, but I would venture to say that you can measure the longevity in minutes... . Enter the multi-mode driver! Fred selected a 3-mode driver (high@2.8A, medium@1A and low@140mA) for this build. Given these figures, we can assume medium will run a few hours and low will run a few days.



    Which brings us to the User Interface (UI). Most modern handheld lights use a side-button or a tail "clicky" or in the simplest form, are controlled by twisting the head ("twisty"). While Fred has done all of those, his philosophy is less is better. In other words, less moving parts provide for a more reliable solution. Simply twist the head clock-wise to turn it on, off/on within 1s "toggles" through the three modes. Once left on in any given mode for more than 2s, the driver will "remember" the mode the next time your turn on the light. Keeping in line with this minimalist principle, there are no springs in use; instead, a silicon gasket assures that battery remains secured. Fred's tolerances don't allow for much play anyways...







    The illumination pattern of a flashlight generally consists of the hotspot, halo and Spill. Fred chose to make this one a "Wall of light" by using a stippled reflector of a shallow(er) depth. This in turn produces less of a prominent spot and enhances the spill. Thus you have a light that has good flood characteristics (wide angle of illumination), but less throw or reach (illumination distance). I happen to find this setup both unique and useful, not to mention aesthetic. Thanks to both Fred's build accuracy and chosen setup, the so-called halo is almost unnoticeable. If you've ever used an El Cheapo $15 LED handheld, then you know how drastic the contrast can be between the hotspot and spill, causing a high-contrast ring (and sometimes, even multiple rings...




    Perfectionist
    So far so good. Or maybe not. Fred apparently was not impressed with the fit & finish of the driver, noting that there were visible electronic components on the battery-side as the designers wanted to shave off an additional pcb layer ...sigh. So Fred, being, well "Fred", took it upon himself to correct this by machining a piece of delrin to cover the exposed electronics. Furthermore, he decided the factory-installed spring was crap, so he replaced it with a brass button. So when I say this is a custom light, I do damn well mean custom in every possible way...

    before & after
    (above photos c/o Photonfanatic)


    Every rose has it's thorn
    Or something like that (it's been a while since I was in English Lit. ...) The multi-mode driver used in this build uses a technology known as Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM). Unfortunately PWM has a few side effects when using the light in any mode other than high. The first is the fact that the light flickers at some (high) frequency. The second problem is that a PWM system can cause an audible "whine" (as recorded in this video). I cannot notice any flicker however I do hear the whine. The sound is barely noticeable in low but readily apparent in medium, assuming a quiet environment (like your basement, etc.) Fred, being well, "Fred", is looking at alternative drivers and trying to determine their operating frequencies, etc.

    The only other possible area of concern is the heat output of an LED like the XM-L driven at 2.8A. When the light is on high, it will warm up in no time. After approx. 1min, the head will heat up to an uncomfortable level. This is normal for hi-powered handhelds and you will often see a warning sticker on the heads. Having foreseen the need to cool this emitter, Fred made the host longer then his usual 18650 hosts (120mm vs. 100mm) and housed the emitter and driver in a beefy Al heatsink. While it is hard to imagine a more attractive host, MokuTi or simply, titanium, is not the best material for head-dissipation. In general, Ag, Cu & Al are considered the best thermal conductors, with Al being the most popular due to its price/efficiency ratio.

    Time will tell if operating such a high-powered Light Engine in such a sleek host will be feasible. In terms of real-world usage, Medium (@1A output and moderate heat emission) is the more useful mode, with high being only necessary in very rare circumstances (like showing the light off... ). The Block Party is primarily functional art and not intended for extreme operating environments (no tour-of-duty planned for this puppy )




    Conclusion
    Functional art is what Fred is all about; from the design principles, to the precision engineering and the desire to produce the very best that he can. This is what got my attention in the first place and this has only been reaffirmed now that I've had the pleasure to use and enjoy Fred's latest masterpiece, the Mokuti Block Party!











    Precision-engineering, inside and out...








    A MokuTi...


    ...Chameleon...


    ...in shades of blues, gold, purples and greens




    Typical forms of illumination patterns*, from throw to flood, hotspot, halo(s) and spill, "dirty" and clean (Block Party at bottom-right)


    *All shots exposed at hotspot, for pattern-comparison purposes. the above is not intended to compare output power and all lights shot at lowest power-modes.
    Traveller - Genève * Melbourne * Miami * Wien

    coherency / steel-is-real

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* shado's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    WOW, Great pics! Congrats on a beautiful collection
    My Lights__________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* greenlight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    That is one beautiful flashlight.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic RIDE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    What a great post!

    RIDE

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* gollum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    thanks for this Trave11er

    a great read and your pics are excellent
    I just spent a few hours trying to capture the intricate light playing on some of my mokume
    It is very tricky



    but back to the main topic

    the Moku-Ti light is the pinnacle of art,design and function

    Fred if you are ever in Oz you can stay at my place for free
    just bring some bling for me to look at

    thanks again Trave11er for your thread

  6. #6
    **Do Not Feed The Vegan**
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    WOWZAH....

    Fred, I'm constantly blown away by how you're always pushing the limits of flashlight art. This is awesome!

    Congrats Trave11er, you're a lucky duck!

    john

  7. #7

    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Quote Originally Posted by shado View Post
    WOW, Great pics! Congrats...
    Quote Originally Posted by RIDE View Post
    What a great post!
    Thanks guys, it was a lot of fun to "learn about" Fred's antics and a bit about LED-Tech too

    Quote Originally Posted by gollum View Post
    ... great read and your pics are excellent ... just spent a few hours trying to capture the intricate light playing on some of my mokume...
    Thank you sir Fred and I can completely relate to you; photographing these types of interference-rich materials and hi-polish finishes is easier said than done... !

    Nice folder, btw - who's it from?
    Traveller - Genève * Melbourne * Miami * Wien

    coherency / steel-is-real

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Wow Serge!! What incredible post about Freds work. Amazing pictures, you are a true artist. I agree, Freds work is without an equal. He puts so much time and effort into the little details. And his willingness to work with new materials and push the limits of design and function.

    Great post!!

    Scott

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottn View Post
    ...incredible post about Freds work. Amazing pictures...
    Thanks Scott, the means a lot coming from you, a fellow admirer of Fred's work and fellow photographer

    I realized that the host is that stunning and at 140mA, the light is that comfortable that it doubles as a backup to candlelight...



    Traveller - Genève * Melbourne * Miami * Wien

    coherency / steel-is-real

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* gollum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Nice folder, btw - who's it from?[/QUOTE]

    don't want to go off topic on Freds work at all
    I made this folder and posted a thread in the custom forge section

    I was just posting to show the interference colours
    this is my first use of a light tent and I was trying hard to get the colour
    I ended up using 2 lights outside the tent (as you do) and then a hand held flashlight inside
    rolling it around to get the correct angle of reflection while looking thru the camera screen
    it ended up working well for me despite only 2 hands
    I took a few shots at the various angles and seemed to get the shine and colour combo

    I am only using a Ricoh digi but it has a good enough macro

    cheers J

  11. #11

    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Quote Originally Posted by Obijuan Kenobe View Post
    That is really just a beautiful piece. I wonder if 500 lumens at 2.8A is a bit of a low estimate. I'd bet it's way low.
    It never occurred to me to think about actual output - I mean this setup is brighter than any other light I own (but I must admit that it's my first XM-L). However I was having major problems lately trying to keep the light properly powered with my AW18650 2200mAh batteries, so I pulled out and blew the dust off my LPM. Yes, a Laser Power Meter is hardly the right tool for the job, but it will still deliver some comparative values between (small) flashlights or the same light with different batteries, etc. Moreover, it will confirm the O/P stability, which, imho, is more important than the max o/p level. My LPM's sensor is big enough to "capture" 95% of a host <25cm in diameter and I can place the host a few cm in front of the sensor, so anything but perhaps a "Mule" can be pretty accurately measured.

    So when I tested the Block Party with the 2200 mAh AW18650s I measured everything from 390mW all the way up to 900mW (freak spike) but when the light was stable (when being the key word here), it measured around 550mW on average. An admirable figure, higher than my other lights sporting XR-E emitters etc, which will hit 400mW. But not up there with what one expects from an XM-L driven at 2.8A...

    So while "the man" and I were discussing possible improvements, I tried a couple of 3V CR123s (as the driver is rated up to 6V) and man, did things change... the Block Party hit 1.1W!!! Heck, it was putting out a steady 1.1W in high and even 360mW stable in medium mode!!! Of course, the Block Party was not designed to dissipate the thermo-byproduct of 1.1W o/p but the upper levels of this driver/emitter combo is to be commended! Talk about bragging rights, one of the coolest-looking handhelds, putting out over a Watt...

    For those wondering what an LPM looks like and more importantly, how I managed to measure a flashlight with it, here are some photos I took a few years back when I first got the DIY LPM... (ignore the "V" symbol; the output is in mW).

    When measuring the op of a laser, you can be as far away from the LPM as you like...


    But with a flashlight, you need to get up close & personal...


    The LPM doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's heart is the real deal...
    Traveller - Genève * Melbourne * Miami * Wien

    coherency / steel-is-real

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Obijuan Kenobe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Just read this last post. Sounds dangerous to toss two cells in behind that driver. You got away with it once, but if it is rated to 6V, I would respect that.

    obi
    Stay sharp and bright for life.
    Have your knife and light handy at all times.
    Sent from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Fred's block party - "hosted" by Mokuti

    Quote Originally Posted by Obijuan Kenobe View Post
    Just read this last post. Sounds dangerous to toss two cells in behind that driver. You got away with it once, but if it is rated to 6V, I would respect that.

    obi
    He was using primary CR123 cells, not Lithium-ion, so the V should be 6V, or less, not the 8.4V that two Lithium-ions would have provided.
    PhotonFanatic—fanatic@photonfanatic.com
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  14. #14

    Buttrock Block Party doin' 1.1W w/AW18650

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonFanatic View Post
    He was using primary CR123 cells, not Lithium-ion...
    Not quite... I was using 3V Li-ions which, fully charged, brought the total voltage to approx 6.6V... still not a good idea, so I only used that combo once! Obviously 8.4V would have fried the driver and probably the LED at the same time...

    But in retrospect, the AW18650s are also now delivering rock-solid results of around 1.1W for the first few cycles (30s max per cycle). We were never sure as to the why things stabilized after the 6.6V session, but now the Block Party rocks with just about any good quality 18650 so I'm stoked
    Traveller - Genève * Melbourne * Miami * Wien

    coherency / steel-is-real

  15. #15
    Flashaholic aikiman44's Avatar
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    Default Re: Block Party doin' 1.1W w/AW18650

    Great thread!

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* DBCstm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Block Party doin' 1.1W w/AW18650

    Very nice write-up of a Master's work. Looking forward to my first Photon Fanatic creation as we await a much anticipated PICcolo driver. Nicely done! And what a beaut you've got there! As a Ti fanatic myself, that one is droolworthy!

    Dale

  17. #17

    Default Re: Block Party doin' 1.1W w/AW18650

    Thx guys

    Dale, looking forward already to seeing what you two have come up with - every Photon Fanatic is unique and a work of technical art
    Traveller - Genève * Melbourne * Miami * Wien

    coherency / steel-is-real

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* DBCstm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Block Party doin' 1.1W w/AW18650

    Trave11er, I wrote up a WIP on it here if you'd like to see. It's here in Freds threads called the Texas Poker. Fred is having proprietary drivers made and I'm/we're waiting on prototypes to finish the build. Very exciting stuff! I believe Fred will be using these new drivers in the W lights he's currently working on.

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...Photon-Fanatic

    Dale

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