a beginners guess to led light project specs



Just to get this out of the way as a new user here but not to forums in general:

1. I have read the FAQ

2. I have searched the forums ( LED, Dive, and others)

3. I have followed links and other recommended guides/ projects

I'd like to construct a Dive light. and here are my requirements:

1. Must be a canister style light

2. Must be able to construct without a lathe or CNC machine.

3. Must use LED lights

4. Must have a burn time of 4 hours at max power

5. Must be cost effective

So far here's what I plan / understand:

I'd like to modify or alter items that are readily available (or order-able online). I have all sorts of tools, saws, and electronic tools available. I am well versed in soldering, and electronic repairs (not necessarily electric calculations). I'm thinking of a three light setup. I want to use reed based switches, I want to be able to adjust the power output, and I want it to have both focus and spread (one light focused the others spread perhaps?). This will be my primary dive light and my secondary will be an off the shelf POS (unless this forum gets me hooked).

Here's what I think I need:

1. Reflector(s) - Used to focus the beam/light. I'm not sure how they are measured but was thinking of 6 degrees for the focused one and 10degrees for the others.

2. LED(s) - Was think of 3 X 5 Watt, pre-mounted on those disc style boards. Recommendations are greatly appreciated!!! I prefer 6500 degrees for the color as all my flashes and other equipment is in that range and makes image processing easier to filter.

3. Heat Sinks - I will use these to help dissipate the heat ( makes sense, perhaps something to come in contact with the body so that the water can help the cooling process.

4. Driver - This part confuses me, I believe this is used instead of resistor circuits for efficiency, power control, and other such benefits. Will i need a driver for each light?

5. Case / Cylinder / housing - Needs to be easily made without custom machining, PVC, Acrylic, Adapted other devices, etc I'm all fine working with or ordering including pressure clamps, cables, switches, etc.

My plan is to wire these parallel unless recommended otherwise. Not sure where switches go, perhaps main power on canister, adjustable power on light? I've seen a lot of build images and posts, but none that are really a follow me guide. I think my idea is to figure out this light then put together said guide step by step ( I do this as a job for someone with biology stuff), and post here.

So fire away with questions and suggestions, I'm all ears. Thank you for helping out a dive light newb.


Newly Enlightened
Jan 10, 2010
Why not using one SSC-P7 instead of three 5W LEDs ? It takes 20 W. Everything is simpler with one LED than three.

Cooling. If you are going to use it ONLY under water, then no heat sink is necessary. Just make sure that the LED is well connected to metal wall and there's water on the other side. If you want to use it "as dry", it's completely different story.


Newly Enlightened
Sep 7, 2010
I have a lot of similar questions but have settled on using the 5xCree 1200, because it includes the LEDs, reflector and driver all in one package. As others have shown here, it fits into a Mag head with a bit of work - I did it using a Foredom flexshaft fitted with cutting discs.

Also, I was going to make a canister but decided to get an OMS waterproof canister instead. The only catch to this is actually finding someone who can stock these...