The Titanium Sapphire AAA Light

McGizmo

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Sapphire-Crystal-1.jpg


Hi guys,

I have hinted at the possibility of a AAA key chain light and this would be it. Before I go further, I think I should mention some of the past. It seems that at least once a year, I will do some sort of goofy AAA light prototype or mod. I have left the tiny lights to others on CPF but the thought of one does come up now and then. My most recent AAA light was a Ti host for one of Peter's Arc AAA light engines in which I swapped the 5 mm LED for one of the 3 mm Nichias that I have a strong preference towards. Peter had provided me with some of his AAA components some time back and I can't even recall what we were up to.

The Sapphire is based on the Arc AAA flashlight.


Last year, in communication with Peter Gransee of Arc Flashlight, this light was brought up in discussion. Some of us have been on Peter over the years to build a Ti AAA and some of you have been on me to build one. I have my ideas and preferences on the host design but lack a light engine to use. Peter offered to build some Light Engines for me using the Nichia 310DS LED (supplied by me). In consideration of Arc Flashlight providing me with these light engines, it was agreed that I would supply them with a portion of the run of titanium sets which I had designed and had fabricated. I would do "my thing" with my lot of components and Arc would do "their thing" with the components they have.


To be more specific on how this light is based on the Arc AAA, the geometry and threads are the same so that in theory the head and batery tube are interchangeable. The converter that drives the LED is the same converter used in the current Arc AAA. The choice of LED is different. The profile and exterior form of the head and battery tube are diferent. The head in this light was designed specifically for hosting the 3 mm LED and there is a sealed sapphire window in front of the LED. A cross section detail of the head and battery tube is below:


SapphireHead-DetailDWG.jpg




I recall with some early Arc AAA lights that the ground path through the aluminum could be problematic and there were some flickering issues encountered by some users. Peter has fine tuned the design and mechanical aspects of the AAA over a number of variations and I believe has mastered this issue. The Sapphire head is in keeping with the Arc AAA head in that it has a lip, aft of the PCB, which could be staked to insure a tight mechanical grip on the PCB as well as enhance the ground path from host to converter. HOWEVER, I have not staked any of these lights and don't believe it is necessary. Further, I have not potted the LE in place as the Arc AAA's are assembled.

I believe the virtue of Ti having its oxide film electrically conductive will in itself alleviate a ground path issue. To date with samples of the Sapphire in use as well as my experience from previous Ti AAA protos, the ground path has not been a problem.

On the wave of Sapphire's I will be launching, I have press fit the LE's into place and then added a silver solder blob to one of the epoxy fill holes in the PCB. The hole is a conductive via and the silver solder is solder bonded to the copper in the hole. I then staked this blob with an auto center punch which forces some of the silver against the inside bore of the PCB chamber in the head. Many of you could care less about what I am saying here and likely aren't trying to follow the "picture". No worries. The result, I believe, is a light engine that is semi permenantly installed in the head and one that will not have any ground path issues. Time will tell.

I say semi permenant because I believe one can succesfully and relatively easily remove the light engine from the head with no damage to the head but in all likelyhood, distruction of the LE itself will result. Why would one want to remove a LE? Well why are any of these lights modified? I believe the Sapphire could be host to any number of small LE's and there are likely other converters and LED's that would be preferred by some of you. Frankly, it may be that the LE could have been installed with an easy slip fit and easy removal but I opted for a more secure mount at the expense of easy removal. :shrug:

I think I have given you enough information at least to start on what I have done with my sets of the Sapphire light. There are many ways to go with this light and I have chosen one path. Peter will no doubt explain what he is up to with his sets when the timing is right for him.

The LE I am using consists of a Nichia 310DS LED and it is overdriven at leat initially by the converter provided by Arc. Arc has had extensive experience with the converter and the Nichia LED's and I defer to their expertise on these matters. The tint of these LED's is certainly up there in color temp. The 310DS has a wide and relatively even flood distribution of light and it is the nature of this LED and the fact that it is not a popular LED in other small lights that is one of the strongest motivating factors for me in wanting a light that uses it. I am probably in a minority here with my preferences but at least now I have some of these lights built the way I want them and I can share additional lights with others of like mind. :eek:

DSC_1303.jpg


DSC_1310.jpg


DSC_1315.jpg



From the images above, you can see that the light has a lanyard hole for split ring, lanyard, chain or what ever you wish. My preference on a key chain or pocket light like this is one of simplicity and straight, plumb hanging. The light will not tail stand without support and there is no H3 vial or provision for such.

I wanted a small light that was simple and impervious to any environment I might subject it to. I suspect this may be the first key chain type light hosting a lamp style LED behind a sealed sapphire window (hence the choice of name). I won't make any claims that this is a dive light but I personally plan to have one attached via a lanyard to my BC and expect it to be there, in back up, should the need ever arise.

My intent is to use lithium AAA bateries in my own Sapphires because I don't want any unpleasant surprise of a leaky battery or one that has vented its gases. The sapphire is a closed chamber and there is no provision for the release of internal pressure.

Well for an initial post, I think the word count is now excessive if not typical for me. :tinfoil:

I would hope that this thread can be about the light itself and not pricing, sales and what have you. I will put that sort of information in the wave notification thread soon. Should you feel the need to discuss price, alternatives to the Sapphire or other such considerations, feel free to do so.

The Sapphire ultimately is what it is and to my knowledge and experience, does what I had hoped it would do.

DSC_1304.jpg
 
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ibcj

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Do these have a foam donut in the area of the contact ? Just wondering if anything has been done differentlly than the arc in that area.
 

herrgurka

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This little gem looks really nice and I certainly like the idea of a Nichia 310DS behind a sealed Sapphire window.

How much does it weigh without a battery installed?

Sigh, another Monday morning in front of the computer :hairpull:. I might as well set my clock 12 hours forward and start living on Hawaiian time permanently :D
 

starfiretoo

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Oct 13, 2006
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Question on the ring. Is the ring hole large enough to fit a larger key ring? Can that Ti ring in the picture be purchased as an option from you? :thanks:
 

McGizmo

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Do these have a foam donut in the area of the contact ? Just wondering if anything has been done differentlly than the arc in that area.

Peter provided me with the foam battery cushions and I will provide them ala carte, with the lights. I find that the twisting action of the light is much easier and smoother without the foam and I don't mind the slight battery rattle. I also suspect that the battery being loose and free to rotate might be better in terms of any carbon build up on the battery terminals and the potential for it to get knocked free by the battery movement. I expect that the lights will break in like all Ti lights do and the foam may be less of an isued down the road but initially, it adds rotational friction as well as its compression force adds to thread friction.

I added a low height silver solder blob to the heads and this allows for the head to screw further down into the battery tube with more threads engaged. To use the foam, the blob should be taller so the foam is not compressed as much. The major diameter of the thread on the head is larger on the Ti part than specified on the Arc AAA and this means that there is more thread overlap and likely a tighter thread fit. With the silicone O-ring on the head it feels nice and secure without the foam cushion in place. Without some extensive field testing, any optimal configuration here is mostly guess work and speculation; at least it is for me. Many of you are more expert than I on these things!

The light without battery weighs 14 grams.
 

starfiretoo

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Have to admit this one's a shock. That prototype you posted awhile back hit the right chord. So happy to see it produced:thumbsup:

You're said the Nichia is being over driven. Do you have a current spec. and run time?
:thanks: and :goodjob:
 

McGizmo

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Question on the ring. Is the ring hole large enough to fit a larger key ring? Can that Ti ring in the picture be purchased as an option from you? :thanks:
The split ring shown in some of the shots is my 15mm Ti Split ring. I considered including them with the light but since I am presently out of them the decision was made for me. What I have not shown is one of these with the 15 mm Ti split ring on the light and in turn installed on the large, 32 mm Ti split ring, with 45 mm Ti clip of mine. This is a full Ti Key clip and key ring assembly that works well for me. I am not selling these Ti components direct but there are a number of CPF friendly vendors who do provide these items.

The lanyard hole is .125" in diameter so a number of lanyard rings will work with it as well as some chains; Ti and other materials.
 

McGizmo

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very nice.

any way to change the design a bit to allow for tailstanding? that was one big con for me with the Arc AAAs.

The design could be changed for tail standing, H3 vial inclusion, tactical impact functions and any number of ideas that one might come up with.

However, it is what it is and hopefully this will become evident. I played with a number of tail options with the last prototype I made and when it was all said and done, I decided I wanted the form to be smooth and easy in the hand and pocket where the light will be the majority of the time. In the hand or the pocket doesn't require many of the options that could be considered or included. I wanted the light to hang clean and plumb and not have any flats or corners that might catch on something. If someone elects to wear the light on a neck lanyard for instance, you want the light to be easily pulled out from under clothing without snagging and you don't want it to easily catch on something beyond your person either.

There are a sea of compromises one must navigate through. On principle, I would prefer the LED be driven at or below spec but that is not the case with the converter used. The advantage to the higher drive level is a greater range than other wise and considering the flood pattern of the 310DS, this has some real merit.

I have not done any flux testing or runtime tests with the Sapphire. In terms of run time, it should be comparable to an Arc AAA with 5 mm Nichia (not the GS I would guess :shrug: :thinking: ). Without a known flux light of similar size, I would not guess as to the accuracy of any measure I might get using my integrating sphere and so I have shied away from doing any flux measure.
 
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