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Thread: Twice the Run Time and Brighter… B90 Upgrade

  1. #1
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    Default Twice the Run Time and Brighter… B90 Upgrade

    Does this seem too good to be true? Well it is true.

    However, there is a catch.

    Jim Sexton and I are teaming up to make a NiMh battery stick that will fit B90 powered lights. These include the 8NX, 8AX, 9AN, and L7.

    We have settled on the GP 3700 sub C cells. They are good performers and have a proven track record. They are a bit on the expensive side, but I think the quality is worth it.

    We also looked at some Sanyo 2400 mAh NiCd cells, but the GP’s are so much better that we decided just to offer them.

    Jim sent me a prototype to test. We have a couple of things to work out, but I was getting 95 minutes run time with the GP pack. I normally get 47 minutes from my SureFire B90 pack.

    In addition, the GP pack was able to hold a higher voltage under load. A higher voltage means a bit brighter lamp output. Jim figured out that it is around a 14% increase in lumens. The 8NX runs a little bit on the warm side, so I noticed that at the end of the GP run, it was about the same color as the start of the run with the stock pack.

    Here is a rough graph that shows the difference in performance at a 2 amp draw.



    A while back SureFire had some problems with the B90 batteries. They changed battery manufacturers (we think), altered the way they check the packs prior to shipping, and changed the charger. This new charger does a fast charge, then the green light comes on. For a full charge, you leave the pack on the charger until the green light starts to blink. The older charger did not have the blinking green LED at the end of the charge.

    The stock charger charges this GP battery pack without problems. The time takes longer, but the cells only get to around 95F and the end of charge termination seems to work fine.

    The GP pack does the bulk charge in around 75 minutes, then it takes about 95 more minutes until the green LED starts flashing. This is a real plus. No additional charger is needed, as long as you have the newer charger.

    The GP cells are a little bit bigger in diameter, so we are having to come up with custom hardware to make things work. I had no problems with fit in my 8NX, but we will have to check the inside diameter of the aluminum lights to make sure there is room.

    Let me know your comments. Right now I have the only GP pack. My 8NX got hot during the run time, but I usually don’t use it continuous. Is there any other issues I have missed?

    Tom

    Edit: I am now taking orders in this thread.
    Last edited by SilverFox; 11-04-2006 at 04:35 PM.
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Wow, it's a little bit hard to read the legend on the graph...

    The green line is the GP 3700 pack, the red line is the Sanyo 2400 NiCd pack that we were playing with, and the black line is the stock B90 (1800 mAh, I think) pack.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Sounds great. I was planning on getting a third B90 since it seems like one of them is not holding a charge for very long. The only problem I will have is that my 9AN charger is the old style that does not blink! The GP 3700 pack wont work with that charger at all!

    Patrick

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    Enlightened DonX_Fi's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I also have older type charge in My 8XN, but still this Is VERY GOOD news.
    Sure I want new batteries. That would get my old workhorse alive again.
    Cheers
    Juha
    CPF#3080

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Hello Patric and Juha,

    I have not tried charging the GP pack in the older SureFire charger, so I don't know if there are any issues with it or not. I may have to try and find one locally and try it out.

    We did not know if it would work on the charger at all. I was very pleased that it worked fine.

    Perhaps you can get a deal from SureFire on a charger upgrade...

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* missionaryman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    why would you use the GP3700's when this is what the supplier advises: "Consider Elite 3600 instead. Better performance and lower price guaranteed.Try IB3800 or Elite3600's. Both outperform GP3700 and cost less."????

    wouldn't it be better to use the IB4200? They are meant to be able to sustain even better voltage and have another 500mah capacity.
    I don't mean to be abrupt but to me it just looks like a no brainer.
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Hello Missionaryman,

    We chose the GP 3700 cells because they are high quality, consistent in capacity and performance from cell to cell, have a high cycle life, don't leak, have the right diameter and length for our application, and held up very well at the expected 2 amp current draw in our application.

    The IB 4200 cells are very attractive, but they are just too big to fit, the same goes for the Elite 3600 cells.

    So, do you have a light that uses the B90 battery that you are interested in getting better performance from?

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  8. #8

    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Looks great, 95 minutes would be a nice improvement. That's a whole evening of monkeying around for me. Nice not to have to change cells. Only little worry is that with brighter output, how much do you think the life of the bulb could get shortened, since the SFs are already overdriven with a 30 hour life?

  9. #9
    *Flashaholic* CLHC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Wow this is interesting news! The batteries running my SureFire 8X and SF.9N have outlived their usefullness allowing on "sprints" with lower light output. Looking forward to hear more on these batteries!

    Thanks!
    LUX'Ottica

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Hello Hector,

    I only have an 8NX. The stock battery pack seems to under drive this lamp a bit. My current lamp is the original that came with the light. This light has been used a lot over the last 18 months, and is still going strong. I have not tracked the actual hours of use, but am pretty sure I am over 30 hours.

    I don't know how much life expectancy you loose, but Jim figured that the increase in voltage will amount to a 14% increase in lumens. I believe this is a pretty gentle overdrive amount...

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* missionaryman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    thanks Silverfox - makes perfect sense in that context, don't actually have a light that uses that pack but was looking into using SUB C's for a different application so been doing some research.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    Hello Missionaryman,

    We chose the GP 3700 cells because they are high quality, consistent in capacity and performance from cell to cell, have a high cycle life, don't leak, have the right diameter and length for our application, and held up very well at the expected 2 amp current draw in our application.

    The IB 4200 cells are very attractive, but they are just too big to fit, the same goes for the Elite 3600 cells.

    So, do you have a light that uses the B90 battery that you are interested in getting better performance from?

    Tom

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    How do you tell if you have an old charger..
    I had to return 3 B90 to surefire awhile back because the batteries wont hold their charge..
    I do have the 8NX...

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I dont have a problem with the charger! I just checked & mine is the newer model that blinks green when 100% charged.

    Count me in for sure!

    guys


    Patrick

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Hello Cqbdude,

    Welcome to CPF.

    The new chargers signal the end of the fast charge with a green LED. If you leave the battery on the charger, the green LED will start to blink. The older chargers did not blink.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    The newer chargers are red LED lit to show initial fast charge for 2 hours then green LED comes on(80%). After a while (time not specified) green LED will blink indicating 100% charge. Then provide a maintenace charge after that. Read the manual last night.

    Patrick

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    Hello Cqbdude,

    Welcome to CPF.

    The new chargers signal the end of the fast charge with a green LED. If you leave the battery on the charger, the green LED will start to blink. The older chargers did not blink.

    Tom

    Thank You for the warm welcome...

    I do have the charger that both has a green and red led indicator on it..
    I will have to charge one of my b90 and actually watch and see if it blinks..
    I usually use the charge and forget method..

    Thanks for the tip...

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    OK. Here's an update:

    It's looking like we can do this for sure, one way or another, but in the worst case scenario, there will be a $320 charge for hardware costs, plus I would need to solder on the positive nipple myself, plus the cost of the cells, plus the cost of the pack assembly, plus shipping to me so I can install the nipples, plus some token amount of money for my time to make the nipples from brass rod and solder them on, plus the cost to ship them out to people.

    In the best case scenario, I will be able to find a negative ring contact / washer that has a minimum order of 100 intsead of 1000, and the battery company I am working with will be able to do the nipples on the positive contact without a $3,000 tooling fee (YIKES!!!) and for a reasonable per pack cost for this smallish run.

    But however it happens it WILL happen if there is enough interest. The more packs that we commit to, the cheaper the per pack price will be. If we do 50 packs, even the $320 cost for the washers will only amount to $6 or so dollars extra per pack. 20 packs pushes it up to $16, and anything less than that is too small a run to bother having done by a company, and would get kicked over into a hand assembly situation (by me, unfortunately).

    However, if I can just buy 100 washers instead of 1000, then we're talking $35 or so instead of $320. Then we're definitely in business.

    But, however we do this, we just have to do it, because it is just so amazing that the stock charger will charge the GP3700 NiMH cells, and that they fit both the charger and the light, and that they have so much better performance than the stock pack. It's the best we could have hoped for, really.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    JS thanks for the time & effort you have put in to this, I hope you will be able to find someone that will sell the washers in 100 packs.

    I am definetly in for 1 and if they are not to expensive I may get 2.


    Patrick

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I think I got lost in all the numbers, what would the estimated cost per pack be?
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Hello Nigel,

    The details are still in the works, so we are unable to know our actual costs. With that in mind, our target price is around $35 per pack.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I would be in for one. -Tom

  22. #22

    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I would be interested in one maybe 2 depending on price.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    put my name in the hat for one or two depending on the price.


    It's so nice to have options other than "surefire".

    Thank you for your hard work and i hope this build happens.

    cnj

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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I'd take 3 packs, please sign me in. Currently owning two brandnew B90's (came with the L7 package) and one 10-year-old B90, still working.

    I hope you'll ship to europe as well, do you?

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I don't own a light that takes the B90, but great project guys

    Will
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Hello Luminator,

    Welcome to CPF.

    I think some arrangements can be made to get a shipment to you.

    I believe I will be back in testing mode on this battery pack next week. We are still working on some details and hope that they will work out quickly. Once we have everything in place, I will let everyone know and we can go from there.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  27. #27

    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    I have an old SF 9N with a B92 ni-cd in it right now. If your pack would fit by
    light I would be in for one or two, depending on the final price. Thanks.

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Well, I guess SilverFox is the late-bird this week and I will get the worm. hehe.

    The worm being an update to this thread of course.

    OK, so I found an appropriate washer that was IN STOCK at the company, and thus we are able to order only 100 pcs instead of 1,000, which is the minimum order for a washer they do NOT have in stock, but do make.

    So that takes care of the negative ring at the top. I can't remember if I described how this will work, but it's pretty simple. Instead of two ribbons running down the side of the pack from a top collar sitting over an insulating washer which keeps it centered, we have a top washer and THREE ribbons equally spaced around it that run down the sides. The three ribbons keep the washer centered, and we dispense entirely with the insulating washer and instead rely on the insulating washer of the top cell itself, the cells own shrink wrap, and the shrink wrap over the three cell stick. That's plenty of insulation! Then there is a final layer of shrink wrap over the whole stick and three ribbons, which is trimmed flush to the top of the negative washer.

    However, for a while, that still left the problem of the positive nipple. And that has now been solved. The guy from the company we are using to make up these battery packs (he and his wife more or less ARE the company) found a metal part that will fit the bill almost perfectly--just needs to have its bottom flange diameter made smaller by a little bit.

    This is REALLY good news, people. The positive nipple is the part that people were telling me would cost $3,000 just to tool up to make it. Pretty steep for a couple dozen packs.

    Actually, the *really* great news is that I won't have to do any manual work whatsoever on these packs. YEEEEEE HAAAAA.

    We are acquiring the washers (Tom, I sent you an email about that--why don't you buy them? The company is annoying me ) and I will be having cells sent to our battery pack maker so that he can make up a couple sample packs for me and Tom to check out.

    After that is done and all kinks are worked out, we will open 'er up. Cost should be something very close to our target price of $35 per pack (plus shipping).
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    Thanks for the update! I am glad you where able to get the washers in a smaller quantity!

    Patrick

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Twice the Run Time and Brighter…

    PGP,

    Yeah. Me too. Unfortunately, the $330 per 1000 of the one kind didn't translate into $33 or so for 100 of the other. The ones we ended up going with are going to be $85 for 100 of them, plus shipping. But they were never the sticking point. The positive nipple was the show stopper. Sinking $300 into a project for the good of CPF is one thing, but $3000 is quite another entirely. Although . . . come to think of it, I probably spent that much on developing the M6-R start to finish. Gosh. That's a fairly sobering thought.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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