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Thread: VersaLux Utility Light Module

  1. #1
    Flashaholic
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    Default VersaLux Utility Light Module

    This may already have a topic of its own, so feel free to relocate it if needed.

    The VersaLux ULM is what I'd consider the "Swiss Army Knife" of LEDs, it can run from 2.2 VDC to 13.8, has ten white Nichia LEDs, and is as about "plug and play" as I've ever seen. I got two of them a while ago, and have had more fun just trying out different whacky ideas and experiments with them.

    http://www.techass.com/el/versalux/ulm/ulm.php

    Sure, they aren't cheap ($49.99 ea )but they solve all the problems of building boards, regulators, calculating resistors, etc. Even a simple, crude but very useable flashlite can be made with one and a 9V battery. A simple headlite? One of these, some double sided sticky tape or velcro, a Radio Shack 4 AA cell holder with switch, and a
    sweatband or some such stretchy thing to fit around your noggin. The applications are endless...

    The site points to some interesting projects and ideas to try out.

    /ed brown in NH [img]images/icons/cool.gif[/img]

  2. #2
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Some small personal horn tooting here...any more details and I'll scoot over to 'buy-sell-trade'.

    I've built up a stand alone pcb which has a built in regulating converter and uses Superflux leds, and is just the right size to fit in standard bicycle tail-light housings. Input power is anything from a pair of AA cells to 12 or more volts (depending upon the LEDs selected).

    Take a look at http://www.borealis.com/~winnie/LED_...ISTA/index.htm
    http://www.ledmuseum.org/bike1.htm

    -Jon

  3. #3
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    I saw your bike light on Craig's site (I'm a regular lurker and sometime contributor of test subjects there. It does grab my interest, I just wish that the white Lumiled LEDs were more availabie (I checked Future Active).
    Can this board (just the converter portion) be worked to generate about 32 to 26 VDC at 100 mA?
    If it can, it would be perfect for my lights using the BG Micro "IR Illuminator" 36 LED (4 parallel strings of 9 LEDs in series) round PC board. I have done "cut and jump" mods to this board so they can run off 12VDC but it is a bit more work than I like, especially for making a large number of these. I will also be trying out a couple of small DC-DC converters I found on the Marlin P Jones site, will supply more detail in its own topic, if this works out to my satisfaction.

    /ed brown in NH [img]images/icons/cool.gif[/img]

  4. #4
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    OOOOPS.... I meant 32 to 36 Volts, not 26 volts. just a case of phat phinger phumble and not proofreading at 100% efficiency. [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

    /ed

  5. #5
    Glowing admin B@rt's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Craig did a review of the VersaLux ULM .

    quote:
    "The VersaLux has two wires coming off it. The red one is the positive, while the black one is the negative. Connecting these wires to any source of DC from 2.2 to 13.8 volts will cause the circuit to spring to life.

    At the lowest setting or off; the circuit draws 1.59 milliamps at 12 volts, and 0.82 milliamps at 3.8 volts.
    At the highest setting (100%) the circuit draws 84 milliamps at 12 volts, and 174.4 milliamps at 3.8 volts.

    The circuit works more efficiently at higher voltages, but can still produce full output all the way down to around 4 volts, and then it starts to fall off..."


    Hope this answers your question.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* star882's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    These modules are bad value for the money.
    For about $25-$35, you can build a module with a 5w luxeon star that is bright.
    I never played with luxeon stars before(can't find where to buy one), so I can't help with circuit design.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* sunspot's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    star882. Get your LS's from Arc or markhannahsupply.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    *Bart*,
    Thank you very much. That dial is nifty, wouldn't mind trying to build a design that allows use of it.

    star88,

    I'm not very knowledgable or adept at electronics, never was my cup-o-tea, though
    I wouldn't mind trying. Of course being able to make a 50% savings does make my ears perk.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    My curiosity is rising. this my be a first home project for me. But some questions arise. Can I just simply attach a 9v and it will run? will that be a high or low output? am concerned about run time. thanks.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* star882's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    It is more than a 50% saving.
    For about half the price, you can build a module that is more than 5x brighter.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Just a note on the Luxeon units: The 5W luxeon units are only just now becoming available, and cost $22 or more each. This is just for the LED, and doesn't include any cost for control circuitry.

    Elsewhere on CPF, people are selling stand alone circuits which use the 1W luxeon units, with a cost in the $30 range, which include the drive circuitry, but the input voltage range is much more limited than that of the ULM. The ULM is pretty much a drop in item that you connect power to.

    -Jon

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* star882's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    The homemade module uses a 5w luxeon and a switchmode power supply to use any voltage from 3v to 19v.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Originally posted by star882:
    The homemade module uses a 5w luxeon and a switchmode power supply to use any voltage from 3v to 19v.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">Could you post a link or other reference? I know that such designs are possible, and have been thinking of doing one myself. But if someone has a design that can come in complete in the $30 range (for the _5W_ LS), then I'd probably buy it.

    -Jon

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    Flashaholic* star882's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    I have not built it yet.
    You can get ideas from national semiconductor and maxim.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Understood.

    I am going to respond to something that you said way back, and then make a suggestion.

    Originally posted by star882:
    These modules are bad value for the money.
    For about $25-$35, you can build a module with a 5w luxeon star that is bright.
    I never played with luxeon stars before(can't find where to buy one), so I can't help with circuit design.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">I strongly disagree with the claim that the ULMs are a bad value for the money. The fact is that they are a finished product that one can buy and use, and the price is not out of this world for what they are.

    But I strongly agree that you can come up with substantial savings or a substantial performance boost, if you are willing to put effort into 'building it yourself'. The ULM uses 9 5mm white LEDs, and these are _not_ the most efficient beasties available, nor are they even close to the most powerful. At most there will be 1W going into these LEDs, and they are not well heat sunk.

    If you want more efficiency or more power, the clear choice is the Luxeon, either 1W or 5W.

    Now, once you have a good design, I would expect the cost of the drive circuit to be somewhere in the $5 to $15 range for the components and the PCB. In addition to this you would need the actual Luxeon. For my boost converter circuit, the parts alone from digikey cost about $11 in quantity 1.

    The converter that you described would have an output voltage in the middle of the input voltage range, which means a 'buck-boost' or an 'inverting' converter. Additionally, at the low input voltage, you are looking at an input current of about 1.5A. This is actually a fairly hefty control circuit. I would thus expect somewhat higher costs for the components.

    The Luxeon LEDs cost about $11-$15 for the 1W versions. The 5W emitters cost about $24, and that doesn't include any sort of heat sink mounting. I would expect the mounted devices to cost a bit more. Thus I expect a home brew quantity 1 5W device to cost a minimum of $40. Of course the price would go down with a quantity order.

    You would also have to consider the cost of the effort to get to the first design. Figure at least a couple of iterations, some of which can be done with home-made PCBs, but which are made much easier with professional PCBs. A reasonable guess for a 'cheapie' job is that to get to a good, stable design would cost a couple hundred dollars.

    Now, I for one would like to get to this design [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] CPF has a history of PCB designs for the 1W Luxeons, and I think that a 5W buck converter design would be a great group project. I suggest a pure buck design, rather than a 'buck-boost' design, because its simpler, more efficient, and you won't need to find batteries capable of 1.5A at 3V. The input voltage range would have to be about 8V to 15V, or possibly higher.

    We could design this circuit, and then share the costs of getting PCBs built.

    I am planning on building this PCB, and if I do it on my own, I'll eventually sell them [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] But I am more interested in splitting the effort; I only sell stuff to support my addiction [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    -Jon

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* star882's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    If you want nichias, build one with a LT1932 and some nichia LEDs.
    If you want more voltage range, use a regulator first.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* RonM's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    The Versalux ULM is really awesome. I can't think of another LED flashlight or module that offers the same flexibility. When I got mine I thought for sure that I'd have to set a dip switch to tell it what the input voltage was. Nope, just hook it up to anything between 2.2 and 13.8 volts and it takes care of the rest. The built in dimmer is also awesome. Nothing makes a light more versatile than variable light output.

    Can you build it yourself for less? Sure, but not everyone has the ability or the time. Heck, I don't even do my own oil changes anymore. [img]images/icons/tongue.gif[/img]

    ULM/Energizer Folding Mod

  18. #18
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Originally posted by star882:
    If you want nichias, build one with a LT1932 and some nichia LEDs.
    If you want more voltage range, use a regulator first.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">Yup, the 1932 is a nice device. I prefer the lt1618, for the higher input voltage and higher output power range, although it requires an external current sense resistor. I've posted a circuit which uses the 1618, and it will happily drive a bunch of Nichias, how many depends upon input voltage.

    You could place a linear regulator in front of the 1932, in order to limit the input voltage range, but this would then shoot your efficiency to pot. You could put a switching regulator in front of the 1932, but now you have two switching regulators in series, which seems silly.

    Finally, neither the 1618 nor the 1932 would be capable of driving the 5W luxeon, except perhaps over a very narrow range of input voltages.

    -Jon

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* star882's Avatar
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Two switching regulators in series is not as silly as it seems.
    PC's, for example, use a regulator in the power supply to downconvert the about 20v from the transformer to 12v, 5v, and 3.3v.
    There is also a regulator on the motherboard to convert 3.3v from the power supply to the voltage the CPU needs.
    Thus, you see that every PC has 2 regulators in series.

  20. #20

    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    "Two switching regulators in series is not as silly as it seems."

    Yes it is.

    "PC's, for example, use a regulator in the power supply to downconvert the about 20v from the transformer to 12v, 5v, and 3.3v. "

    No PC power supply i've ever seen does this. PC power supplies rectify and filter the incoming AC directly, there is no isolation transformer.
    The result is about 180VDC across the main caps.
    A switching transistor driven by the controller chip chops the DC and applies it to a high frequency transformer, with 2 or 3 secondaries on it. The secondaries provide the 5V, 12V and sometimes 3.3V

    "Thus, you see that every PC has 2 regulators in series. "

    Incorrect.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: VersaLux Utility Light Module

    Star882 is in part correct.

    For many of the modern high speed chipsets, the CPU operates at less than 3.3V. But most standard PC power supplies generate 5V, and sometimes 3.3V. So for computers which use these lower voltage chipsets, you will often find a DC-DC converter on the motherboard which takes the 5V standard output and produces what the core CPU chipset requires.

    This is certainly not the case with all PCs.

    Another place where placing DC-DC converters in series is used is when low voltage DC is distributed to boards in telecommunications, and then DC-DC converters are used on the boards to provide final voltages.

    I still claim that it is silly to use 2 DC-DC converters in series to provide a couple of watts to $10 in LEDs, even if it isn't silly to do so when you need to supply 50W to $1000 in CPU.

    -Jon

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