My first big LED lego, issues, help!

Chrisdm

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Hey guys, I'm new to this and trying to research to find as many answers as possible, and CPF has been very helpful. I originally posted this in the batteries etc sub-forum as my issues are likely battery or perception related, but got no love there, so...

I'm building & buying a couple lights to test & use on my search & rescue team (and in the process have become a certified flashaholic)... My most ambitious project is just complete, this Lumens Factory head (SST-90):
http://www.lighthound.com/Lumens-Fac...ly_p_3771.html

.. And I scored an FM Megallenium 3x18650 body mount it. I really wanted to go the 18650/CR123 route because my primary search light, my EDC and headlamp all use those, and in the field it will be VERY ADVANTAGEOUS for me and my team to all have interchangeable batteries.

But the problems are these: Firstoff, I went through 4 sets of 18650s before I found 3 that would make the connection. I had 4 ultrafires, all of which didn't have 3 the exact same height among them, and they wouldn't make the connection to the host because of this. Next I tried my AWs, which are the flat top models and wouldn't make connection because of this.. Finally I ordered 3 Redilast after reading positive reviews. They are all nearly the exact same height and it still takes me a couple tries to get them to make connection to the host. I have talked with another Megalennium owner and he has told me he has a similar experience getting his to light up. I contacted fivemega for help too and he basically just said that yes his 3x18650 hosts can be picky about the batteries...

My second issue is this: My current primary search light is a Jetbeam M1Xm (XM-L 2x18650), which is only rated at 750 lumens, is at least as bright if not more, than this Lumens Factory head rated at 1600 lumens? Yes the Jetbeam is much more of a thrower, making it appear more powerful, but I though with twice the output the SST-90 would look more impressive, even though floodier. I've never tried IMR batteries, but I understand they give more juice ***NEWBIE ALERT, I told you*** for shorter periods...? The only IMR 18650s I found were AW's at Lighthound, would this be the way to go?

I also contacted Lumens Factory and they would not comment on the use of "aftermarket" hosts. They basically say the Surefire M6 running 6xCR123s is the ultimate body for this head... Could I possibly get more output using 6xCR123s in a M6 body?

Thanks so much in advance for sharing your insight & experience, I appreciate it.​
 

onetrickpony

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Hey, I have no experience with that body, but how are the connections at the positive and negative side made, are there springs? I'm wondering if there's any play there, maybe you could stretch the spring or put in a longer one, or even use a spacer to make the batteries fit tighter.

Good luck, hopefully someone with more insight can give you a definitive answer.
 

PCC

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WRT getting the 3 X 18650 configuration to make contact, you might try a small, flat magnet at the negative end of the battery placed at the tail end of the stack. That may be enough to get consistent contact. I don't know how the LF SST-90 head's positive contact is set up (spring?), nor how the Megallenium's tail cap is configured, so, this may or may not work for you.

Without a Lux meter to actually measure the difference in brightness, it's just a guess as to which one is actually brighter. The SST-90 appears to be less bright because the larger die size does two things: it makes the hotspot larger and it makes the spill beam brighter. The end result is that it makes more light, overall, but, because of the excess spill and oversized hotspot that may or may not actually be brighter than the Jetbeam's hotspot you perceive it as being less bright because everything else caught in the beam is brighter, tricking your eyes into thinking that the hotspot is less intense.
 

Chrisdm

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Hey, I have no experience with that body, but how are the connections at the positive and negative side made, are there springs? I'm wondering if there's any play there, maybe you could stretch the spring or put in a longer one, or even use a spacer to make the batteries fit tighter.

Good luck, hopefully someone with more insight can give you a definitive answer.

Thanks. There aren't any springs, just a plate. So basically you have to have 3 batteries that are the EXACT same height... And out of the 10 18650s I own I found 3 that work, sometimes :(
 

Chrisdm

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Mar 10, 2011
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917
WRT getting the 3 X 18650 configuration to make contact, you might try a small, flat magnet at the negative end of the battery placed at the tail end of the stack. That may be enough to get consistent contact. I don't know how the LF SST-90 head's positive contact is set up (spring?), nor how the Megallenium's tail cap is configured, so, this may or may not work for you.

Without a Lux meter to actually measure the difference in brightness, it's just a guess as to which one is actually brighter. The SST-90 appears to be less bright because the larger die size does two things: it makes the hotspot larger and it makes the spill beam brighter. The end result is that it makes more light, overall, but, because of the excess spill and oversized hotspot that may or may not actually be brighter than the Jetbeam's hotspot you perceive it as being less bright because everything else caught in the beam is brighter, tricking your eyes into thinking that the hotspot is less intense.

Thanks, that makes sense regarding brightness. And for the varied work I do it will be nice for me to have a strong thrower and a strong flood light... In SAR we find ourselves in many varied scenarios...

But Is it the evolution of every "real" flashaholic to own a lux meter? Cause I'm gonna look into them right now... Oh I just realized... I'm a pro photographer and have a light meter for my strobes, a Sekonic 558.. I wonder if it has a lux reading function...
 
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ElectronGuru

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My second issue is this: My current primary search light is a Jetbeam M1Xm (XM-L 2x18650), which is only rated at 750 lumens, is at least as bright if not more, than this Lumens Factory [SST90] head rated at 1600 lumens?

This is a well documented problem. Here's the scoop:

  1. SST's are made for huge (non portable) installations
  2. SST's are rated at full power
  3. Most places installing them rated their lights at this rating
  4. SSTs (especially the 90) require massive power and even massiver' cooling to get anywhere close to full power
  5. Most places install them with some % of full power
  6. SST's suck at less than full power

True 1600 lumens would require a huge, expensive setup with special batteries and parts. You can get over 2K lumens with that FM body, you just need a 1909 incan setup.
 

PCC

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But Is it the evolution of every "real" flashaholic to own a lux meter? Cause I'm gonna look into them right now... Oh I just realized... I'm a pro photographer and have a light meter for my strobes, a Sekonic 558.. I wonder if it has a lux reading function...

Being a wannabe photographer (I have a camera and am not afraid to use it, I just don't make money with it) I have to say that, as embarrasing as it is to admit, I have never owned a light meter, ever. Even back in the day running around with that heavy Nikon F(tn) hanging around my neck I was relying on the built-in meter and have mostly gotten away with it.

Can you post pictures of both the head and tail showing the contact surfaces? That might help with finding answers. I think this might be a case where the body was designed with the intent that the head would have a spring and the head was designed with the intent of the tail cap having a spring and you ended up with no prings at all.
 

Chrisdm

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Thanks so much for your insight.. That sucks. Kinda feel misled my Lumens factory as they sell this as 1600 lumens on an M6 host...

This is a well documented problem. Here's the scoop:


  1. SST's are made for huge (non portable) installations
  2. SST's are rated at full power
  3. Most places installing them rated their lights at this rating
  4. SSTs (especially the 90) require massive power and even massiver' cooling to get anywhere close to full power
  5. Most places install them with some % of full power
  6. SST's suck at less than full power


True 1600 lumens would require a huge, expensive setup with special batteries and parts. You can get over 2K lumens with that FM body, you just need a 1909 incan setup.
 

Chrisdm

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Update, I just found out how to measure LUX with my Sekonic strobe meter... you have to do a conversion from EV, and its certainly not exact... furthermore I don't really know how to interperet these numbers, but here are the approximate numbers I got after taking the best of 3 readings from these two:


Lumens Factory SST-90 run on Megalennium 3x18650 (regular protected, not IMR): 445k LUX

Jetbeam M1Xm (XM-L, 2x regular protected 18650): 345k LUX


Should note I was holding the meter up against the lens, and the reflector is a bit deeper on the Jetbeam so the meter was closer to the SST-90, if that matters... And I don't know it its possible to convert those to lumens, but it at least appears to my light meter that the SST-90 setup is brighter than my 800 lumen Jetbeam, from the glass.
 

PCC

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The way to measure the Lux is to place the light meter 5 meters or 5 yards away from the light, set the meter to display and hold the peak reading then shine the light at it trying to hold the brightest part, usually the middle of the beam, right on the meter. This should be done, obviously, in a darkened room. If the meter doesn't have a peak setting then have someone either hold and turn on the flashlight or have them read the biggest number they've seen show up on the meter. Take whatever number you get, convert it to Lux, then divide by 5 to get the one meter reading that is the standard.

The problem with taking a reading right at the lens is that most lights actually have a hole in the beam at such close distances and you are not getting a true reading out of it.
 

onetrickpony

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Thanks. There aren't any springs, just a plate. So basically you have to have 3 batteries that are the EXACT same height... And out of the 10 18650s I own I found 3 that work, sometimes :(

Ok, in that case, I would suggest some frankensteining to bring that thing to life. Here's what I would do:

1. Determine how much room you have to add in some kind of connection assistance. A good way to start would be to grab some good ol' aluminum foil and fold over a few layers. Put them in between the negative end of the batteries and the tailcap. Make sure there's no chance of shorting and put the cap on. I can pretty much guarantee you'll instantly solve the connection issue, and probably see a bit more output if you're lucky.

2. Find a good, low resistance spring to solder into the tail. If there isn't enough room, either make more by whatever means you can figure out, or make a "solder pad" on the negative terminal in the tailcap. This just means what it sounds like, just heat up the pad and some solder and make a blob right where the batteries hit. I find if you use a razor or some sandpaper to make it flat you'll get a much better connection. Be careful not to crush your batteries though, that would be bad, and is a good reason to really attempt to do the spring instead.

3. Let everybody know how it goes, so that other people with the same problem can fix it.
 

Chrisdm

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Thanks for that.. I haven't worked with solder in a while and I'm no tech, obviously, but I may try number 2... Today the batteries connected 1st try though and I'm not gonna fix it until it breaks again :)

Ok, in that case, I would suggest some frankensteining to bring that thing to life. Here's what I would do:

1. Determine how much room you have to add in some kind of connection assistance. A good way to start would be to grab some good ol' aluminum foil and fold over a few layers. Put them in between the negative end of the batteries and the tailcap. Make sure there's no chance of shorting and put the cap on. I can pretty much guarantee you'll instantly solve the connection issue, and probably see a bit more output if you're lucky.

2. Find a good, low resistance spring to solder into the tail. If there isn't enough room, either make more by whatever means you can figure out, or make a "solder pad" on the negative terminal in the tailcap. This just means what it sounds like, just heat up the pad and some solder and make a blob right where the batteries hit. I find if you use a razor or some sandpaper to make it flat you'll get a much better connection. Be careful not to crush your batteries though, that would be bad, and is a good reason to really attempt to do the spring instead.

3. Let everybody know how it goes, so that other people with the same problem can fix it.
 

Chrisdm

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One more thing guys, I need some basic education obviously... I have read of the use of IMR cells to get more power... And I thought that power was in the form of voltage... But I just looked at the IMR 18650s and their output voltage (3.7v) is the same listed for my other regular 18650s.. What am I missing? Would 18650 IMRs be a possible solution to get more juice to this SST-90?

Thanks!
 

Chrisdm

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917
The way to measure the Lux is to place the light meter 5 meters or 5 yards away from the light, set the meter to display and hold the peak reading then shine the light at it trying to hold the brightest part, usually the middle of the beam, right on the meter. This should be done, obviously, in a darkened room. If the meter doesn't have a peak setting then have someone either hold and turn on the flashlight or have them read the biggest number they've seen show up on the meter. Take whatever number you get, convert it to Lux, then divide by 5 to get the one meter reading that is the standard.

The problem with taking a reading right at the lens is that most lights actually have a hole in the beam at such close distances and you are not getting a true reading out of it.

Ok, I did this, and the figures reversed.. By this method I got 1700 lux for the Jetbeam & 450 lux for the SST-90... But at 5 meters the much floodier beam of the SST-90 is already well spread (making the spot reading at that distance much weaker I presume) than the Jetbeam, which has a very very tight beam, giving it a much higher relative reading at that distance... Also, wouldn't you multiply by 5 to get the one meter reading instead of divide?

I really appreciate your help, thank you.
 

CarpentryHero

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It's a higher amperage you get from imr cells, my AWimr18650 can dish out more than mu ultrafire 18650 2600mah cells.
I've heard up to 20 amps can be pulled from an imr but I can't confirm that.
Lighthound, overready and there's an AW sales thread in the dealers corner of the marketplace are all great places to get these cells
 

CarpentryHero

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Floody lights don't give good lux, lux is a measure of throw, more than brightness.

Lumens is a rating for brightness, though that needs to be measured in a sphere.
There is a sticky about lumen readings in a sphere.

Couple members like Bigchelis have there own spheres.
Lumens otf rated as ANSI rated are pretty reliable ways to know brightness, some companies that I trust also say lumens OTF (out the front) are pretty accurate too
 

Chrisdm

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I just found on bugoutgear.com's sales pagefor this head, they say:

"** We strongly recommend using IMR Li-ion cells for this high current application. Using normal li-ion rechargeable batteries or CR-123 primary cells may not yield optimal performance**"

... But I bought this from Lighthound and they made no mention of the fact that IMRs were required to get full potential out of this head... So as a next step of the quest I'll buy a couple sets of IMRs I guess.... Or I may just sell the whole thing and get an SR90... By the time I add up all the batteries I will have gone through to get it to work I may get to SR90 money.

Thanks, I'l look into the Lighthound sales threads.
 

CarpentryHero

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18650's are always handy, but I've never owned a light that uses two or more.
If I did, it'd be either Crelant XML or the Catapult V3

Though I like the look of the new Fenix lights, who knows when they'll finally be out
 

Chrisdm

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18650's are always handy, but I've never owned a light that uses two or more.
If I did, it'd be either Crelant XML or the Catapult V3

Though I like the look of the new Fenix lights, who knows when they'll finally be out

Yes, my Jetbeam M1Xm is the equivalent to those 2, and its ability to throw is startling... I get a kick taking it into the street at night to show an unsuspecting friend. They typically have no idea a flashlight a fraction the size of a big Maglite is capable of lighting up a house a block away. One of these days the neighbors are going to complain..:)

I don't care for the look of the Fenix lights, they look like plasticky... For the same price the Jetbeams offer same performance with much more appealing look & feel. JMO...
 

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