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Thread: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

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    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    So having taken a step back from fitting in reviews around my ever busier full time job, I've finally managed to have a go at a couple of LED upgrade mods that have been nagging at me to get them done.

    Inspired by Blue LED's Armytek Predator v1 LED upgrade, I originally wanted to do the same to my V1.2 Predator.

    After a bit of research and ordering a few LEDs, the plan was to upgrade the Predator and the Extreme Beam M1000 I have.

    Predator V1.2 Upgrade attempt:

    Well disappointingly, this was a complete failure. The Predator still works perfectly, so at least I didn't break it, but the upgrade attempt was simply struggling against a light that was built to stay in one piece.

    After taking the head apart as much as I could (Bezel, Reflector, seals and insulator) The pill was revealed. Originally it was screwed into place, but then it has been potted. The two holes that you would normally use to unscrew the pill are filled with a resin that barely smoked when touched with a soldering iron, and this resin had flowed into the threads as well. This was not going to moved anywhere.



    So I tried an 'in situ' upgrade, as Blue LED had told me he had done the Predator V1 upgrade in this way.

    With a 50W soldering iron applied to the LED board, the lower meting temperature solder holding the LED on would just not get hot enough. In fact the heat-sinking of the LED board was too good, and the entire head got up to about 85C even after around 25 minutes.

    Abort and reassemble the light OK, it still works.



    Extreme Beam M1000 Upgrade:

    The M1000 came out when the XM-L2 was not so common, but other lights were using it. I always thought this was a pity, so decided this should have an update. I also wanted to see what a 4500K LED looked like, so I chose the following:



    CREE XM-L2 T6 4C
    Approximated light output: 1044-1119lumens @ 3A 25C
    Color temperature: 4250-4500K
    Tint: Neutral white

    The M1000 is a doddle to take apart. First simply unscrew the focusing bezel, and this comes away with the reflector in place.



    Needle-nose pliers easily unscrew the module



    The new LED on its original board.



    Popping off the insulator, removing two screws and unsoldering the board, and the M1000's original board is out.



    Using a DIY reflow soldering technique the new LED was removed from the board it came on.

    This technique involves using an insulating block (for soldering jewellery), a metal pad to heat (in this case a copper 1p piece), and a reasonably powerful soldering iron (50W) to apply the heat.

    Also used were some bamboo tweezers for lifting off the LED. I chose these as they are non-scratch, and relatively heat proof.

    The heat is applied to the metal pad and you watch the LED for changes in the solder. Once up to temperature the LED is simply lifted off.

    Before doing this you must carefully note down which way round the LED is in relation to the positive and negative contacts and replicate this when putting it onto the original board.



    The module all reassembled and the original LED sitting in front of it.



    I have yet to take tint comparison photos, but the tint is more warm than neutral. Despite a real increase in brightness, the warm tint actually looks less bright, but is a very nice colour light.


    Fenix LD10 Upgrade:

    So far it is 1 all for me vs LED upgrades (1 successful, and 1 aborted upgrade), so I wanted to try again.

    My original Fenix LD10 with XP-G R4 was just begging for a new lease of life, so I selected this:



    CREE XP-G2 R5 3C LED on Noctigon XP16 MCPCB
    Approximated light output: 518-558lumens @ 1.5A 25C
    Color temperature: 4750-5000K
    Tint: Neutral white

    As with the M1000, the new board is not compatible, so a reflow remount of the LED was needed.

    This time I remembered to do a before tint comparison. Here the LD10 is on the left with a LD12 on the right.



    Having taken the head apart using two small strap wrenches and unsoldered the board, it was ready to have the XP-G LED taken off.



    Skipping forward and the new LED is reflowed onto the old board and refitted to the light head. The board is not screwed down, and instead has the plastic locator which is then held down by the base of the reflector to keep everything tight.



    The new LED in place.



    And the resulting tint change. This is a neutral tint and less warm than the M1000's new tint.





    The output measurements:


    To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

    Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

    Light being upgraded I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens Percentage gain
    LD10 with XP-G R4 LED (Original) 151 N/A
    LD10 with XP-G2 R5 3C 5000K LED 164 8.6% increase
    Extreme Beam M1000 with XM-L T6 LED(Original) 735 N/A
    Extreme Beam M1000 with XM-L2 T6 4C 4500K LED 745 1.3% increase


    Some thoughts so far:

    Actual output gains are not that great, so when a manufacturer releases a new version with new LED, they will have tweaked and optimised the driver to get the most out of that LED. However, the gains are there and it is satisfying to be able to improve the output to some degree, but at the same time be able to choose the tint (and of course change it again if you don't like it).

    My old Quark AA Regular is next up for the operating table, but after this I'll just have to see if inspiration strikes again.



    UPDATE
    ....


    Quark AA regular Upgrade:

    And the last one has been the most successful with a toning down in tint and over 20% increase in output. An original Quark AA Regular it was fitted with the XP-G R5 version.

    In this run, there was one last LED:

    CREE XP-G2 S2 2B LED
    Approximated light output: 558-595lumens @ 1.5A 25C
    Color temperature: 5700-6100K
    Tint: Cool white

    The Quark head waiting to be taken apart



    Thanks to the use of lots of thread lock, a couple of strap wrenches were needed to remove the reflector assembly. It started to move just at the point I decided I was going to need to heat it, but the hairdryer was not required.



    With the reflector assembly off, you can see the plastic LED locator.



    Popping off the LED locator reveals the LED and board which are simply sitting on a pad of heat-sink paste.



    After removing the board and reflow soldering the new LED in place, the board is ready to go back into place.



    The board is solder back in, ready for the LED locator and reflector assembly to be refitted.



    The output level for these shots was chosen to be roughly the same as the reference Fenix LD12 (always on the right). First the before shot.



    Then the after. Despite the LED specifications which should have resulted in almost no tint change, this XP-G2 S2 LED has a slight neutral tendency. A very pleasing white, neither cool nor neutral but somewhere in between.




    The output measurements:

    Of all of these upgrades, as far as output gains, this was by far the most successful.

    Light being upgraded I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens Percentage gain
    Quark AA with XP-G R5 LED on 14500 (Original) 199 N/A
    Quark AA with XP-G R5 LED on AA (Original) 94 N/A
    Quark AA with XP-G2 S2 2B LED on 14500 245 23% increase
    Quark AA with XP-G2 S2 2B LED on AA 114 21% increase
    Last edited by subwoofer; 06-21-2014 at 02:10 AM.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Nice work! I'm a big fan of the tint of the 4C XM-L2 tint, to my eyes, it compares very favourably to the highly rated 92CRI Nichia 219.

    I think I need to invest in a pair of strap wrenches, cracking open my Fenix LD20 took more than it's fair share of f'ing and blinding (bit of blood-loss) trying to use mole grips and bicycle inner tube...

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Quote Originally Posted by gravelmonkey View Post
    Nice work! I'm a big fan of the tint of the 4C XM-L2 tint, to my eyes, it compares very favourably to the highly rated 92CRI Nichia 219.

    I think I need to invest in a pair of strap wrenches, cracking open my Fenix LD20 took more than it's fair share of f'ing and blinding (bit of blood-loss) trying to use mole grips and bicycle inner tube...
    Satisfying would sum it up

    When I'm doing some more photos I include one of the XM-L2 4C tint compared to the LD10 and the reference LD12 cool white tint. I too like it.

    After a similar experience with mole grips and various 'protective' strips, many of which did not protect at all, I got sick of scratching and damaging lights, so the minimal investment (I paid 3.70 for a set of two) in strap wrenches has been well worth it. In fact, they have proven useful in so many different ways I now class them as an 'essential' tool.

    The Quark AA head is going to need a bit of heat, but I have it on good authority, that even some well known modders only use a hair drier to provide a gentle heat to help loosen the thread lock. Heat guns are a bit too much and can cause damage.
    Last edited by subwoofer; 06-20-2014 at 03:02 AM.
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    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Post 1 now updated with a Quark AA Regular upgrade with over 20% gain in output!
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    Flashaholic* Essexman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Nice work Sub, where did you buy the strap wrenches? I had a couple of cheap ones that broke when I tried to take apart a Sunwayman head.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Quote Originally Posted by Essexman View Post
    Nice work Sub, where did you buy the strap wrenches? I had a couple of cheap ones that broke when I tried to take apart a Sunwayman head.
    Good to hear from you

    The strap wrenches I bought from a seller on ebay a couple of years ago. They don't seem to sell them any more and in fact the ones I have which were very common at the time, are not being sold now.

    Even Draper branded ones have had a few bad reviews, and it looks like the Boa brand is probably the one to get, but they are more expensive.
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Where did you shop for the led's?

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally some time to do a couple of quick mods! (LED upgrades)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Where did you shop for the led's?
    They came from intl-outdoor.com

    A couple of weeks wait for them to arrive, but good prices and no minimum order.
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