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Thread: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

  1. #1
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Post 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Hello all,

    My name is Danilo and this will be where I will be documenting my build and turning to for any suggestions as I continue to build my 3kw xenon searchlight. I am currently 17 years old and have recently resumed working on this light after about a 2 year break. I originally had intentions to make as bright of a light as I could from the power that I can pull from my house (2 phase, 220v between two 110v lines), but am limited to smaller light sources due to reasons I will explain later (a 3000w xenon bulb is also plenty bright).

    To date, I have completed the ballast assembly, which is a Ballantyne Strong Corp. 1-3K Xenon Ballast, the control box (to adjust current, switch on aux power, switch power to lamp), and a handheld remote that controls all aspects of the light as well as monitors the ballast current draw and power consumption. I have also completed the frame of the lamp housing. I settled on a hexagonal shape that has an inner circle diameter of 22 in (to provide suitable clearance around the reflector), and that is also 36in high. The reflector i'm using is a 20in Phoenix Plectroformed Products model PA6 20 in reflector with a 2.30 in focal length. I really owe a lot many thanks to Lindon Black over at Phoenix Electroformed for taking the time to help me with the design and providing the reflector, and I feel I owe it to him to complete this light properly and to the best of my ability.

    Speaking of ability, in order to construct the aluminum frame of the reflector, I needed to learn how to tig weld aluminium. In the pictures, you might spot some of the most atrocious welds you have ever seen, but please bear with me; these welds show my first 8 hours of welding and the learning curve is quite steep.

    I have been interested in lights for quite a long time, and have various other high powered flashlight projects I have made over the past 6 years. These include, but are not limited to, a 300w Cermax xenon short arc flashlight (that was powered off of lead acid batteries lol), a 575w HMI flashlight (basically higher pressure metal halide), and a 400w led monster flashlight.

    I will post images of the power supply, control box, remote tomorrow in addition to what I have completed so far with the frame and the mechanism I have made to adjust the focus of the light. See you all soon!

  2. #2

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Wow, what a start. Following

  3. #3
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Alright, so I have gathered up some images of my progress thus far. Here are some images of the ballast I will be using:

    I will post this for now, and if my images load correctly I will return with images of the focusing mechanism, control box, and remote

  4. #4
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Alright, I see that my image hosting service that I found actually works- that's a relief. Anyway, Here are some pics of the reflector. It is a PA6.16 reflector (PA6 series) manufactured my Phoenix Electroformed. It is a nickel reflector that is rhodium coated. Being 20" in diameter to ensure more light is columnized, that means that my hexagonal lamp housing has to be very large to make room for the reflector.


    Here is a picture of the ignitor I will be using. It is an Irem 40Kv Ignitor, what will work up to 160a rms, so the 100a I will be pushing though it will be a breeze for it. Also, like all good things, it was made in Italy.


    Moving on to the control box, it is a series of 3 contractors that are actuated by the handheld remote (shown later), that control the ballast's state as well as output current through a potentiometer on the remote. The control box also has a line filter that the power going to the ignitor runs through to prevent "dirty" power from being injected back into my house's wiring system. I added a cooling fan and a vent on the opposite side for the hell of it, not much of a purpose.


    Next is the remote. It's nothing fancy; the bottom right switch switches on the main power going to the ballast (activating the auxiliary cooling fans in the lamp module), the bottom right switch energizes the lamp, and the momentary pushbutton is there to activate the ignitor for the split second it needs to operate. The potentiometer adjust the current going to the lamp from 33a @ 30 vdc to 100a, but I will keep it to the right as I need the full 100a to run a 3Kw xenon lamp. The screen on top displays live current draw and voltage across the input to the ballast.



    I will do a special post regarding the focusing mechanism because I need some help figuring out how to insulate it and if the stepper motor I have controlling the focus will be able to handle the heat coming from the cathode of the lamp. I'm having a lot of fun doing this and I look forward to finally finish this project so I can finally see this thing hit the clouds.

  5. #5

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Good to see any new searchlight build thread!
    I just wonder what i would do if any of those big electroformed reflectors dropped in my hands. I would try to resist...

  6. #6

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Build is going faster than i thought!
    Great update.

  7. #7
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Alright, here is a major update. Over the past couple of months I have been working pretty tirelessly and have devoted all of my freetime from school and college-apps towards finishing up this big light. I finished it.

    The extruded aluminum hexagon, called the lamphouse, is split into two primary subdivisions: the upper and lower sections. The lower section is pressurized by means of three fans working in conjunction to pump air into the sealed enclosure. This section also contains all of the additional components working toward the lamps functionality. The sealed housing allows pressure to be built up by the fans in the lower section. This pressure is then able to be relieved through the hole at the base of the reflector, thereby circulating air over the top of the quartz envelope of the xenon lamp to cool it. Therefore, the upper half is just meant to direct the air out of the housing and away from the intake. The reflector and reflector mount serve as the dividers of the two sections.

    The pressurized lower section contains all of the additional circuitry required to operate the lamp safely and reliably. The igniter, which is also located in the pressurized section, is critical towards the operation of the light. The igniter consists of a pulse transformer that is in series with the lamp to initiate the arc by means of a 40 kV pulse sequence superimposed into the existing 30-volt potential across the lamp provided by the switching power supply. While the igniter only turns on for half a second, it presents additional safety concerns for the operator because of the high voltage with which it saturates the circuit. In order to minimize risk, very strict wire management and added insulation on all high-voltage carrying wires were necessary to ensure safety for the operator through the elimination of potential electric arcing

    The pressurized section also contains the lamp base. A combination of an isolated aluminum frame with a motorized lamp focusing mechanism is mounted to the top of this aluminum frame. Because the mechanism is motorized, it allows for much more precise positioning of the lamp within the reflector focal point. I found it necessary to design my own mechanism for focusing the light that would not only be able to electronically focus the lamp inside the reflector but also withstand the very high temperatures conducted by the lamp base to the anode clamp. This heat isolation was accomplished by a stepper motor that rotates a lead screw. This lead screw is attached to a sled that holds the base of the lamp, converting the rotational motion of the lead screw to linear motion thereby allowing the lamp to be focused inside of the reflector. In order to ensure the maximum temperature of the bearings on the linear sled is not exceeded, the anode clamp mounted at the top of the linear sled is attached to a fan-cooled heatsink.

    That is the gist of how my light was built to operate. The side panels are I think made of .09" thick aluminum and the base plate, reflector mount are all made of 1/8" aluminum. I am really happy with how my electronic stepper-motor focusing mechanism that I built is holding up to the high temperatures of the cathode. I metered my current draw, and I am pulling 109 amperes from my ballast. The temperature outside last night (which is when the pics are taken) was only 27 degrees fahrenheit, which is worrying me a bit with how the lamp is going to hold up. On the topic of cooling, although I am using case fans to pressurize the lower section and not a squirrel cage blower, I am still getting 12 m/s of airflow overtop of the quartz envelope of the bulb, and after running it for 45 min continuously last night, the bulb seemed pretty happy. I had some focusing issues with my lamp too, as I do not think that it is perfectly centered within the reflector.

    A BIG thanks to Lindon Black from Phoenix Electroformed for his continued guidance and support in making this all possible for me


    Build process:





























    Securing the reflector mount to the aluminum extrusions:





  8. #8
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    More pictures of the build process:













    Pictures of the final product:













  9. #9
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Here are the long-awaited beamshots:






























  10. #10
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    I do have a couple of questions moving forward as I do not believe that my light is completely finished.

    How do I secure the top end of the bulb while still allowing the bulb to slide up and down for focusing? I know that the bulb must be secured at both ends if I want to tilt it and I am wondering what mechanism I could use to achieve a secure grip on the bulb while also allowing the bulb to be moved freely up and down. I also have a couple of issues with isolation as the aluminum frame is grounded and isolating the top-bulb holder would be a challenge.

    How to I put a top piece of glass on the top? I ordered a 22 in diameter price of tempered glass off of amazon and it is both a little bit too big a probably a little to thick (1/8 in). Also, when putting the flat piece of glass overtop of the reflector and bulb, I noticed that I was getting very little airflow out of the top end. The air going over the quartz envelope is moving at approximately 11.5 m/s, and I think that because the glass is perpendicular to the airflow it creates a lot of vortices, preventing a lot of the air from actually getting out. A more specific question regard the glass would then be "how do I put on the protective glass plate while still ensuring good airflow out of the light?"

    My last question would be concerning operating temperatures. I have run this light two nights in a row when it was just 25 degrees outside and I am wondering if that might be too cold. If it isn't, how cold of weather can these light run at? I have seen commercial Sky Trackers listed with operating temperature ranges of -30 to 40 degrees celsius.

    Thank you guys for following, I will have more beamshots (hopefully) to come in the near future (but sorry if I don't respond right away or get to taking more pictures as I am a high school senior and I have a lot of work at this time of the year). Regards

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    we need lumen and lux specs immediately !!

  12. #12
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Quote Originally Posted by hahoo View Post
    we need lumen and lux specs immediately !!
    I have no idea about the exact lumens but the bulb is a 3Kw Ushio UXL-30SC bulb and I am running it a but over max spec (112a at 28vdc). The beam is just really frickin' big and that is all that is important to me haha. I have had people spot it from 6.2 miles away on a clear night, and on a foggy night it lights up all of the surrounding air around my house as the light is refracted and makes it seem like my house is a small city. The whole system runs off of split phase 244v ac and consumes 4350w, which I assume a lot of is going to the cooling system and the 90% efficiency of the 30kHz switching power supply.

  13. #13

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Magnificent! The BEST!


  14. #14

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    This is a very impressive build! Great results from the beam so far, are you planning to mount this on a trunnion eventually? Do you mind sharing what the reflector cost?

  15. #15

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Awesome, I want one!

    Are you taking care to avoid the shortwave (UVC) light from that tube? If there is nothing but the quartz tube in the path, it will give you a suntan in about two seconds.

  16. #16

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    When you get bored playing with it, you could rent it out to those of us without you resources or energy to build one? :-)

  17. #17
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    I made a video on my youtube channel covering the searchlight pretty in depth: https://youtu.be/yvX9EmR2oYQ

    I would check it out if you want to see a more detailed explanation of how I built it (and my atrocious weld joints).

  18. #18
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    I would be willing to rent it out or possibly sell it if there are any interested buyers. I think the biggest issue would be shipping.
    Last edited by danthexenonorc; 05-26-2020 at 09:59 AM.

  19. #19
    Enlightened danthexenonorc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorMemory View Post
    Awesome, I want one!

    Are you taking care to avoid the shortwave (UVC) light from that tube? If there is nothing but the quartz tube in the path, it will give you a suntan in about two seconds.
    I think the Ushio lamp I was using had a quartz envelope that absorbed all of the shortwave uv emitted by the arc. Also, xenon lamps that are used for uv emittion have mercury in them to boost the uv spectrum, and this is only filled with xenon.

  20. #20

    Default Re: 3Kw Xenon Searchlight Build

    ow )how far does the light reach approximately?are look so good
    If I were to be your neighbor and I was to notice that, I would be very confused

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