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Thread: A2 tune up thread

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Thumbs up A2 tune up thread

    Surefire A2 Aviator

    There are a lot of questions about DIY improvements for this light , so I am attempting to put most of it in one thread, with pictures and links, so it can serve as an easy reference guide for questions. Please feel free to add links or post suggestions.

    1. How to tighten the pocket clip?

    First, remove the bezel.





    Next, carefully remove the bezel o-ring with a toothpick.





    To remove the lanyard ring, see this thread: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...44#post1438244
    Here's a pic of it disassembled if that helps to know how it is held together:




    Grab that SF lanyard you have laying around.....





    ....and loop it around the clip.






    Pull carefully and take care that the small black plastic insert below the clip does not go flying!





    Use a pair of pliers and squeeze carefully as shown until the the parts touch.



    Then reassemble to enjoy your tighter pocket clip!!! You may have to wiggle the clip a little to get it back in it's slot depending on how much you bend the clip. If it is hard to push back in, try pushing it against the edge of a table, that usually does the trick for me.




    2. How to sand LEDs for a smoother beam?
    (This mod is simple to do, but it is at your own risk as it may void SF's warranty.)

    Stock A2's with white LEDs have a fairly diffused beam; the colored LEDs do not and actually have a rather ringy beam pattern similar to the olympic rings symbol. Many CPFers have found that sanding or scuffing these LEDs gives them a much smoother, diffused beam that is preferrable for just about every application. White LEDs can be sanded as well to get rid of the 'angry blue' but some throw is lost.

    First,unscrew the bezel and pull out the lamp.





    Next, remove the three screws with a mini phillips screwdriver (take care not to lose them, they are small). Carefully remove the LED ring from the bezel. Usually it will just fall out with a slight tap, but it may require gentle use of pliers.





    With a pair of needle nose pliers and a sponge sanding block (fine grit), carefully sand each of the LEDs to your own liking. Hold the LED firmly with the pliers and take care not to twist or cause the solder to break. White LEDs may need very little sanding as they are fairly diffused, colored LEDs may require more scuffing depending on how diffused you wish the beam to be.





    When finished, the LEDs should look cloudy all around the top half of the dome. Be sure to brush off the dust to make sure there are no remaining clear spots. The next two pictures attempt to show sanded LEDs, though I appologize for the quality.






    Again, before reassembling, make sure you remove all dust, lint, etc as you don't want to get debris in your A2 bezel. When replacing the screws, you may need to use your pliers to get them into position. Remember the bezel is only aluminum, so do not overtighten the screws. They should be snug though for proper contact. If after reassembly one or more of the LEDs are not lit, check to make sure the screws are snug as this is commonly the cause.

    Test your A2 in LED mode to see if the beam pattern is as diffused as you wanted it, if not, sand them a little more until you are satisfied. Below are beamshots of my red, green, and white A2's with sanded LEDs. Notice how evenly the light is diffused (sorry, no before and after pictures, but if you want an excellent review of the colored varieties of the A2, see greenLED's thread: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...8&page=1&pp=30 ).








    3. GITD? (glow in the dark)
    If you purchase some glow powder, glow paint, or tritium vials, you can make your A2 LEDs glow in the dark! For greenLED's mod with tritium vials, see this thread: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=120034
    Paint and powder can be purchased here: http://www.glowinc.com/ (I prefer the Ultra Blue). I used glow powder and mixed it with Uhu brand glue to make a paste. I then applied it to the back of my A2 LED's with a toothpick. Colored LEDs do not charge GITD that well (white LEDs work best), though one quick blast from the incandescent and they will glow all night! Here's a few pics:









    4. Colored Filters?
    The older style SF 'E' series flip-up filters fit (snuggly), but not the newer hex-style. Here's a picture of SF's F05 flip-up filter stretched over the A2 bezel:




    This style filter is no longer available from SF, but is made by Bushwacker and can be ordered here (size 1):
    http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.co...ERSAL&vendors=
    or here:
    http://www.quakeinc.com/optic.html





    5. Holster?
    SF's V20 holster seems the best fit to me, YMMV.




    6. Differences in A2 models?
    Older A2 models had square bodies with four flat sides, newer models have a rounder body with three smooth sides. Older models had a short clip, while newer models have a longer one. Also, older models had a smooth bezel, whereas the newer bezel is scallopped.




    7. Tail standing?
    The A2 in the top of the previous picture has a delrin tailcap guard-ring that allows for tail standing and provides some protection against drops. CPF'er oregonshooter makes an excellent quality tail guard-ring that looks sharp and functions better than any other tailcap ring I have used (pictured in the next two photos). When available, you can purchase one here: http://store.oregonshooter.com/ These can also be purchased from Malkoff here: http://www.jsburlysflashlights.com/c...ME:flashlights






    8. Better way to attach the lanyard?
    Get rid of that lanyard ring and attach an o-ring! Seriously, if you don't have need for the break-away feature of the stock lanyard ring, then use a thick doubled-up o-ring with the lanyard for a much easier and more secure means of keeping track of your A2.




    9. Adjusting the incandescent beam?
    The A2 has a slightly oval incandescent beam that can be adjusted somewhat to suit your usage and preference. This is done by removing the bezel and rotating the A2 lamp to reposition the filament. My preference is to align the filament vertically with the pocket clip, this way I know that the beam will be veritcally oriented when I hold by A2 in my usual 'cigar' grip. I prefer a sharper oval beam because it tends to be more consentrated and produces the furthest throw. However, the lamp can also be rotated to align the filament with one of the LEDs which seems to round the beam a little more. This preference is popular among many A2 owners as well. Experiment to see what suits your needs best!

    There is also a great after market lamp available from Lumens Factory that is a little brighter for less $$: http://www.lumensfactory.com/cart.php?cat_id=8

    CPFer FiveMega has also made a bi-pin adapter for use with the Streamlight Strion bulb. These are no longer in production, but a very nice upgrade if you can find one: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...=184556&page=2

    10. How to swap the LEDs?
    Here's a wonderful thread with illustrations on how to mod the A2 LED ring with the LEDs of your choice:
    http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...3&highlight=a2


    11. Use with rechargeables?
    I have cycled rechargeables through my green A2 150+ times now with no issues, but caution should be taken since these are unprotected Li-ions. Currently there are no protected Li-ions that fit in the A2, only unprotected. CPFers have asked if the cell AW sells for the L2 will work in the A2. I have not tried it, but based on my limited knowledge of the circuitry in the A2, it appears to be a buck circuit that pushes the voltage down to 4.5 volts or so to power the lamp. One Li-ion does not have enough voltage to power the incandescent lamp, so yes, you must use two Li-ions for it to work. Again, this is at your own risk and also probably voids SF's warranty.
    http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...8&page=1&pp=30
    see also:
    http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=95230


    12. Anything else you ever wanted to know about the A2....
    Here is the most extensive post written yet about the Surefire A2:
    http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...3&page=1&pp=30

    Also, here's an equally amazing comparison of the various beams of each color of the A2 as well as some with modded LED's: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...8&page=1&pp=30

    And if you haven't read enough yet, here is an excellent thread index collected by Atomic_Chicken, the designer of the Aviatrix: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=165635

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by leukos; 05-31-2010 at 11:38 PM.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  2. #2
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Sorry man, but none of your pics are showing up.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Phaserburn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Quote Originally Posted by kidatari
    Sorry man, but none of your pics are showing up.
    ditto
    The Phaser: A nice EDC with great throw; heat and runtime can be issues.

    Best Diffusion Film!

  4. #4

    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    The only picture I can see is the one with the F05 filter.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Sorry about the pics. I host them on geocities, and i always have this problem the first day I post a lot of pics. Check back later, they should be working.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Somy Nex's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    only a couple would load for me the first time i saw the page, but they all load up for me now (took some time though). some pretty interesting info here =)
    Somy Nex

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Grox's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Great stuff leukos! Excellent summary post

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* PoliceScannerMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Great thread, I'm gonna try to tighten my clip and sand my blue leds!!!

    EDITone!! My beam is SOOOO much smoother!!

    And my clip is TIIIGGGHHHTTT!!!

    -PSM


    Mods, Care to make this an temporary sticky???

    I found it helpful, and it was my first mod!!!
    Last edited by PoliceScannerMan; 12-10-2005 at 11:34 AM.

  9. #9
    *Flashaholic* wquiles's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Thanks for the nice summary dude

    Will
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  10. #10
    Flashaholic* Timson's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Great write up Leukos........

    Well I 've had my Red A2 for 2 days now, so its high time I took it apart and started modding it.

    I really want that smooth diffused beam from my red LED's that you have in your pictures.

    I have 2 sanding pads.....A 180 Grit and an even finer 220 Grit (Very fine).
    Which would you use?

    Any advice as to how to physically do the sanding.... ie - Linear strokes, circular movements etc...
    Hopefully with an abrasive pad this fine - the orientation of the sanding work won't leave defined scratch lines in the direction of pad movement...but it's just something I'm worried about so thought I'd ask before jumping in head fist and ruining my lovely new light.

    TIA,

    Tim.
    M3-CB, C3-HAIII, A2-RD, Fenix L1P, Fenix P1D-CE, Tri-Star Phaser, Inova T3, Mag85, SNII Clone, DD LuxIII Mag,

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  11. #11
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Thanks, Timson.

    I actually have no idea what grit I used on my LEDs as I threw away the packaging a long time ago. I'm sure either grit will do the trick. I used a circular motion mainly because it was the easiest and did the job more effectively. Good luck!

    P.S. Sorry to everyone who can't view the pics, the site I host my pics at has a small data transfer limit so they don't show up when the thread gets a lot of views.
    Last edited by leukos; 05-12-2006 at 07:38 AM.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Timson's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Well......Used the 220 grit pad.

    Actually a lot easier than I thought.

    When I re-assembled and tried it out - the light was beautifully diffused, but I'd really killed the throw and overall output.

    Got a bit of T-Cut - (car bodywork cutting polish) on a rag and gave the LEDs a quick polish.

    I think I've now achieved the desired effect.
    Obviously some of the throw is lost, but the 'ringyness' is now gone.

    A2 is now perfect.


    Tim.
    M3-CB, C3-HAIII, A2-RD, Fenix L1P, Fenix P1D-CE, Tri-Star Phaser, Inova T3, Mag85, SNII Clone, DD LuxIII Mag,

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  13. #13
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Timson,
    Glad to hear it worked for you. It is a simple mod with very pleasing results. You are right that there is a slight reduction in output, but I think you will find in a completely dark room that even with a little less output, the diffused beam actually works better with night adapted eyes.
    I still can't figure out why SF prefers the ringy LEDs when they can be easily had with a much better beam?
    Last edited by leukos; 05-12-2006 at 11:08 AM.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    I just bought a red filter for my A2 from that bushwacker site. Now I can have the standard white LED or put on the red cover and still have the diffused light, no sanding required. Cool!
    It isn't the life that matters, it's the courage you put into it.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    I've tried getting that clip loose and it won't budge a millimieter. I may have a newer model where it's fixed rather than removable? I'd consider myself of average strength and If i pull any harder I'm afraid that clip is going to break or seriously warp out, did anyone else have trouble getting it loose?
    It isn't the life that matters, it's the courage you put into it.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    batman, the pocket clip is not "fixed," just really well seated. The suggestion from leukos to use paracord works best, but like he said, make sure the little plastic piece does not go flying across the room when the clip comes out.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    i must have done something wrong. i finally removed the clip and bent it with plyers (like in the pic),but now it's impossible to get it back in there! this mod might have been a mistake
    It isn't the life that matters, it's the courage you put into it.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    batman,
    It sounds like the fit for your clip is unusually tight. Normally there is a little resistance pulling it off and it does require a little wiggling to push it back in (you'll need to eat your wheaties!) but the end result is worth the work. Several folks have reported losing their expensive surefires from leaving the clip stock.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    fixed it. I ended up straightening the clip back out again by inserting it backwards a bit and pulling up. Then it went in ok. It was actually getting the clip to slide in under the slot on the flashlight body that was hard. once i got it started it was easy.

    I have ran a runtime test and noticed that some folds say not to run the incan again once it falls out of regulation, but is it fine to run the LEDs?

    My last question about this light is the heat issue. It gets super hot on long runs but doesn't reach thermal shutdown,...anything to worry about? If i sound worried its just because this was an expensive flashlight.

    thanks!
    It isn't the life that matters, it's the courage you put into it.

  20. #20
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Quote Originally Posted by batman
    I have ran a runtime test and noticed that some folds say not to run the incan again once it falls out of regulation, but is it fine to run the LEDs?
    Yes, it's fine to use the LEDs when the incan goes out of regulation. That's what they're there for.

    My last question about this light is the heat issue. It gets super hot on long runs but doesn't reach thermal shutdown,...anything to worry about? If i sound worried its just because this was an expensive flashlight.
    It's an incandescent light. Incandescent lamps are not harmed by heat the way LEDs are.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Hmmm, curious about the body variations shown way above in the pictures for #s 6 and 7. The light shown with s/n A10490 has a scalloped bezel with the "hot surface" warning. I have an A2 that is about 1,000 units higher but has the earlier non-scalloped bezel and no warning. Question for Leukos: does that A2 have the original bezel? Not a big deal, just curious.
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  22. #22
    Flashaholic* seery's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    leukos - GREAT information, THANKS for putting it together.

    Will be getting my first A2 light (actually two, red and yellow/green since
    I can't decide) next week and this thread will be a wealth of help. Especially
    the sanding of the LED's.


  23. #23
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Quote Originally Posted by JNewell
    Leukos: does that A2 have the original bezel? Not a big deal, just curious.
    JNewell,
    Ha, curious you ask. No, that is not the original bezel (I had to think about it for a moment). I did an A2 body swap with another CPFer and I don't know if he had a round or scalloped bezel originally as he had a T.I.D. mounted on it. I'm also not sure about the one at the bottom of the picture (lowest serial #) as I bought that second hand. It seems like SF might have introduced the scalloped bezel somewhere around those numbered 12,000+ ?
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  24. #24

    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    I just bought a 2mm Phillips screwdriver and used it for the LED sanding on one of my red A2's.

    I had no sanding sponge so used a small piece of dry 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper to buff each LED and the red beam is now very smooth. It does however appear that the farther toward the base that each LED is sanded, the wider the flood might be. I suspect that the results might be better with 800 or 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

    After doing this I read Timson's post which mentioned that this can kill the throw and I hope he didn't mean the throw of the incandescent bulb...now I'm waiting for it to get nice and dark to check results...

    Richard

  25. #25

    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Sanding the LED's definitely does knock out some of the throw of the incandescent...also it appears to have altered the incandescent's spill beam significantly, creating spots and rings which is probably why Surefire doesn't do this, so I'll get finer grits and work up to 1500 or 2000 or higher, or maybe try some of that polish used for buffing scratches out of clear plastic and plexiglass.

    The red LED beam is perfect however.

    Richard

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Quote Originally Posted by rgp4544
    Sanding the LED's definitely does knock out some of the throw of the incandescent...also it appears to have altered the incandescent's spill beam significantly, creating spots and rings which is probably why Surefire doesn't do this

    Richard
    I'm not sure this is an accurate observation. From how I understood it, folks who have mentioned loss of throw from sanding LEDs were talking about the throw of the LEDs. Your incandescent beam may have changed if the lamp was rotated from how the filament was previously aligned. I'm not sure about the artifacts in the spill beam either. Many folks have commented about the spill beam pattern of the A2 on a white wall being not as pretty as the beam of the E2e, but actual use the A2 spill is preferable. I not sure this mod has any affect on the incandescent beam's characteristics. Perhaps some dust got on the window or reflector? Perhaps some incandescent beam artifacts weren't noticed before because of the prominent LED beam artifacts?
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  27. #27

    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    I tested the incandescent beam outdoors by pointing it at a barn about 110 yards away. Prior to disassembly, I made index marks on the lamp assembly as well as the the head. There was no need to index the LED ring because the LED ring was already marked with the red dot that Surefire placed on it.

    Apparently the sanded LED's accentuated an outer ring in the incandescent beam that I'd never noticed before even though I've used A2's ever since they came on the market and have two red ones and two white ones. Comparing to the 3 unmodified A2's, when specifically looking for such a ring in the spillbeam, I noticed for the first time ever that they also have a similar ring but it is not as noticable, whereas the sanded red one now displays a noticable ring out to about 20 yards.

    Nevertheless I've decided to keep the sanded red A2 as is because it now has a better flood than any red light I've ever tried. Once dark adapted though even the sanded red LED's still produce too much light for cockpit use at night and it is still going to be necessary to filter the red light through fingers when reading charts and approach plates etc.

    It would be nice to eliminate any outer ring on the incandescent beam though because these lights are frequently used for inspecting surfaces that are painted with glossy white polyurethane.

    Also...what methods do people use to be able to identify which color A2 they're grabbing without turning it on? I regularly paint a colored dot on mine but the dots can't be seen in the dark and the paint rubs off after a few weeks. Based on photos it looks as though the glow in the dark modification using glow powder at the base of the LED's might be too bright.

    Richard

  28. #28
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    excellent thread

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* Blindasabat's Avatar
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    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Quote Originally Posted by rgp4544
    Also...what methods do people use to be able to identify which color A2 they're grabbing without turning it on?
    Richard
    Do you use lanyards on your A2's? If so, different lanyards can be used to ID different color LEDs. Or just putting a short lanyard or band on one color if you don't use lanyards or take the lanyard ring off one and not the other. Even a rubber band around the body will work because your fingers can feel the rubber easily.

  30. #30

    Default Re: A2 tune up thread

    Great! I have just received my A2 yesterday and there is alot to learn.

    Could anyone tell me any compatitble light bulb for the A2. $20US seems to be alot for a bulb.

    Is it possible to replace the LED in the future when better one alternative are available?

    Is it possible to replace the incandescent with a luxeon?

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