2000 Lumen Headlight Assembly Notes
: My old LED headlights failed in an attempt to brighten them. Needed replacement ASAP. Need was worth more than the cost of waiting for best price to arrive. Solution was total MacGyver
: Repeating some previous information in order to create a concise post.
Searching the known sources and the web did not provide fruitful answers or timely solutions. It was in fact the source supplier that had posted my old LED flashlights could handle up to 9 VDC, so I purchased a switched-mode supply to test. Nope, the specs are inaccurate and both LEDs failed at 5.6 V. Bummed but not lost. Tried again with my backup set of LED flashlights that claimed they were 1000 Lumen each, but those too failed to do the job (probably my fault for using them prior in extreme conditions). Now I’m stuck. Searching for local solutions, the lion’s share of choices are outrageously priced and underwhelming in lighting power, until I found this:
@ Home Depot: Defiant Model # HD14Q407 1000 Lumens LED Flashlight
There was also a 1500 Lumen version; the difference was that the 1k used Qty-3 D-cell batteries, whilst the 1.5k used 4. Two reasons why I bought the 1k: The runtime was nearly 3X that of the 1.5k, and… well – it could fit in my knapsack
Bought 2 of these units and went forward to dissected how they were put together and quickly determined that they were assembled completely different that the previous Cree units, and as luck would have it – the LED heads were connected by 2 wires (~ 20-AWG, white and red). Checking the voltage across the high mode came within 3.2 to 3.3 VDC! No voltage adjustment required
Based upon the nominal battery size of 1.2 Ah with 3 in series at 4.5 V and having a lifetime of 22 hours, the current draw was estimated to be (1.5*3*1.2)/22 = ~ ¼ W. If true, even with Qty-2 there would not be any issues with pulling too much power.
Comparing Defiant 1k with the old system of twin Cree UniqueFire 300 Lumen units. Note the Handlebar mount (found on eBay some years ago).
The Defiant head has 3 LEDs built in. First thing we did was cut most of the battery holder away.
The triple LED Head assembly is made of an Aluminum base with polished plastic reflectors, and is connected to the specialized driver circuit board by two wires. The voltage across these wires in “High” mode was 3.3 VDC.
Except for the thumbswitch, here it is fully disassembled.
Using a jig to secure the part, we employed a chop-saw to create the mounting interface.
For the mechanical interface to work, the ID of the Battery housing measured 1.35 inches, whilst the ID of the Handlebar holder measured 1.1 inches. In a quick search, it turns out that ¾ inch PVC tubing would be the least expensive material: The OD of ¾ inch PVC is 1.05 inches and the standard F/F coupling has an OD of 1.3 inches. Here is the intended final assembly.
Once again a comparison of size of the Defiant 1000 Lumen with the 300 Lumen Cree UniqueFire. The new head unit is significantly larger and thus affects the faring, so the final length of PVC will be determined by trial. Unseen, though worth noting is that we drilled a ¼ inch wire feed-through hole at the juncture where the coupling fit the pipe.
Again – I was in a hurry and did not have sufficient time to source the proper paint. Going with what was available locally, I chose this:
@ Home Depot: Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Model # 265494 12 oz. LeakSeal Black Spray
Understand that it’s raining outside and cold; this was the only paint that I could find that under these conditions – cured in 2 hours. I sprayed both the modified heads and PVC assemblies. It was still tacky after 3 so I brought them inside and placed them on top of an oil-based room heater and it still took the better part of the day to cure out.
Word about the Sealant
: It is definitely not paint
, however it does create a vinyl-like rubbery coating that can provide an adequate weather barrier if the surfaces are properly treated. I used 400-grit wet/dry on the PVC until the printed markings were removed, and again on the modified sections of the Defiant body. This was followed with a denatured alcohol wipe-down to remove dust.
In brief, the re-mounting was a bit difficult due in to the weight of the heads, and I was in a hurry so there was no time for pics. However I did create a tensioning system using zip-ties that prevented the lights from tipping forward; it’s not optimum and adjustments will be required – but there is time for that. The Field Test followed immediately upon completion.
The first thing I noted was that the flickering induced by the troublesome Blinkies
was almost non-apparent; it’s still there – although very subtle and hardly noticeable. That’s a good sign, and I am grateful for that issue to go away. The brightness of the headlights is profound, though easily adoptable: Imagine that the previous system was dimming, perhaps less than 50% of rated value, and the new system boasted more than 3X illumination power. That was very apparent in the pitch black rainy night. I could actually see the road clearly well over 100 feet away.
I will post a comparison of lighting at first opportunity – meaning when it quits raining. (Sorry California: I wish you could take ours)
This is not the optimum solution; the units are spendy and the heads are weighty. My costs out of pocket were about $65 USD for the flashlights after tax + about $15 USD for sealant and sandpaper. If you use PVC, Rust-Oleum makes a paint especially formulated for that material however it’s over $35, and for me I didn’t want to part another Jackson.
By going with direct wiring, I have bypassed the LED driver. This may or not be a good thang, and time will tell. However there is opportunity to leverage the unconnected Low-Beam switch and create a lower-voltage opportunity, maybe for daytime driving. Always something to twiddle…
That’s me for now. As I said, I’ll post the nighttime distance at first dark.