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Old 11-01-07, 02:34 PM   #1
Sammyboy
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Modding - What you can mod, and how to do it

So. Having read the Cateye EL 530 thread, I kinda want to upgrade a light, specially after seeing how cheap the LEDs are. However, I haven't had my EL500 very long, and even on sale it cost me $40, and it's actually pretty good. I'm neither an electronics whiz, nor am I specially good with tiny things, so I'd kinda prefer to try this out on a light that I really don't care about. Could I upgrade this light?



It's an incandescent, it says it's a 2.8v 0.5 amp bulb, with 2 x LR14 batteries. I guess a better question would be, how can you tell what you can upgrade, and what you can upgrade it with/to? The second question would be, how do you do it? I don't mean "prise open the casing, yank out the old LED, pop in the new one, bingo!". What I mean is, for a dummy who will have to buy a soldering iron before he can begin, how do you do it, step by step? You've actually got me hooked, and now I want to know.
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Old 11-01-07, 03:03 PM   #2
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I don't think it's worth trying to upgrade that light. The reflector and lens are bound to be pretty inefficient, and the plastic case is not so great for high power lights, even LEDs. There's nowhere to stick a heatsink so it has access to open air unless you cut a big hole in the case, and once you've done that there won't be much left...
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Old 11-01-07, 03:05 PM   #3
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Do they make and LED based bulb replacement that would fit in that light?
It's already going to be 3 Volts DC.
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Old 11-01-07, 03:06 PM   #4
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I don't know. This is why I'm asking. It seems like an EL500 would also not have space for a heatsink, unless I'm being an idiot. Or will it have one built in? I take your point about the reflector and lens however.
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Old 11-01-07, 03:10 PM   #5
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Do they make and LED based bulb replacement that would fit in that light?
It's already going to be 3 Volts DC.
The bulb in that light is probably soldered on, so no. If it's mounted in a socket then you might find something, but it'll probably cost as much as a new LED light.

Last edited by jeff-o; 11-01-07 at 03:10 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 11-01-07, 03:13 PM   #6
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I don't know. This is why I'm asking. It seems like an EL500 would also not have space for a heatsink, unless I'm being an idiot. Or will it have one built in? I take your point about the reflector and lens however.
It probably doesn't have one, nor does it need one. It uses a 1W Luxeon LED, which doesn't get quite hot enough to need much heatsinking. So I suppose you could put a similar emitter in your case, but it still wouldn't be as good as a light you already have.
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Old 11-01-07, 03:15 PM   #7
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Come on guys, help me understand! I've been recommended to upgrade my EL500, what makes that an easy job? Is it a pop out/pop in job with the LED, or is it an unsolder/resolder? Does it have a heatsink already, or is it that the Seoul LED that was recommended doesn't need one?

As far as I know, if a bulb is soldered in, then with a soldering iron and a solder sucker, I can remove it......
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Old 11-01-07, 03:17 PM   #8
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It probably doesn't have one, nor does it need one. It uses a 1W Luxeon LED, which doesn't get quite hot enough to need much heatsinking. So I suppose you could put a similar emitter in your case, but it still wouldn't be as good as a light you already have.
Ok. So other people have been putting this LED in the EL500:

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.2026

Should they have had a heatsink? If they wouldn't need one, what (apart from the risk that it wouldn't be that good) would stop me putting this in the light I've got? I don't want to be a pain in the arse, but I'm fumbling in the dark at the moment At the moment, I'm like the guy who doesn't know that you need horizontal dropouts to allow you to tension the chain on a fixed gear, or that you can't hook a Nexus 8 up to a friction shifter cos the hub will die. Help me become educated!
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Old 11-01-07, 04:21 PM   #9
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The EL500 uses an identical form factor LED to the dx one recommended. LEDs have increased in EFFICIENCY hugely since the EL500 was made. Meaning you get a lot more light out for the same heat production...ie the light will not get any hotter.
The led is mounted to an aluminium plate which is sufficent to dissipate the heat. The beam pattern is pretty much the same too, so the light pattern will be similar.
This is not the case at all for the powerbeam light, the optics are designed for a bulb not an LED, you will also have to find some significant sized bit of metal to mount the LED to, and build/buy and install a driver circuit (These are 6v bulbs I think, 4x AA batteries?).

For the EL500, you cut the front off, undo a few screws, unsolder the LED, check which way the connections go on the new LED, solder it in(thermal epoxy under the LED if you like) screw it all back together and glue the front back on.
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Old 11-01-07, 04:28 PM   #10
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This is helping. The Powerbeam light is in fact a 2.8v bulb running off 2 x LR14 cells (C cells, I think those are). I now understand the issue with upgrading that. Can you explain what you mean by "form factor"? Does that mean basically the same wattage?
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Old 11-01-07, 05:44 PM   #11
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It looks like an identical component. Yes, same wattage but newer technology so more light.
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Old 11-01-07, 06:40 PM   #12
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This thread is very relevent to my interests. I may be a step ahead of everyone having the tools already from family and the LED's I've already gotten from friends but still my understanding is low. I would consider myself a uber noob as the electornics, the calculations of the runtime/power/etc daunts me, and that I don't work well learning from reading books. I am a hands on and side-by-side hands on learner.

Sammy,

I'm all for helping you out with what I know but construction of cases and such I am not skilled or know how to do. The 'cube' light by SirAchesAlot (AKA Allen) that I'm making already is hard enough cutting and such. I don't have a sander or bandsaw and using all manual tools. I guess you get more repect going the hard way but the hard way sucks (and on the ears when I'm hand filing and you get nails on the chalkboard sounds and squeeks). I plan on doing a step by step small guide from a newbie prespective which I think will appeal to you and others in the same boat learning. Perhaps those that learn from this can expand and then return to take on the 'newbie' view of doing things to teach others.
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Old 11-01-07, 06:42 PM   #13
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This is helping. The Powerbeam light is in fact a 2.8v bulb running off 2 x LR14 cells (C cells, I think those are). I now understand the issue with upgrading that. Can you explain what you mean by "form factor"? Does that mean basically the same wattage?
Form Factor means 'size' normally. At least coming from a computer side of things.
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Old 11-01-07, 07:06 PM   #14
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The 'cube' light by SirAchesAlot (AKA Allen) that I'm making already is hard enough cutting and such. I don't have a sander or bandsaw and using all manual tools. I guess you get more repect going the hard way but the hard way sucks (and on the ears when I'm hand filing and you get nails on the chalkboard sounds and squeeks). I plan on doing a step by step small guide from a newbie prespective which I think will appeal to you and others in the same boat learning. Perhaps those that learn from this can expand and then return to take on the 'newbie' view of doing things to teach others.
I built one of those light like Allen's, but I chose a different design to avoid extra cutting and sanding. You don't need a sander or any powertools. A file and a hacksaw is all you need, or at least that's all I needed. It took me about 1.5 hour with the housing alone, because I try to do it Allen's way, but didn't work out.



Notice the smooth profile on top as compared to Allen's.



And my mounting option is way better.

When the Seoul V-bin comes out, I'm building another set as I already have the materials.
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Old 11-02-07, 01:19 AM   #15
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Making or adapting a housing is the part I'm least worried about (perhaps foolishly). I've got reasonable mechanical skills, and access to a machine shop (although none of the skill that I'd need in there!). The part that scares me is the electronics...

Thanks guys, I feel like my brain is coming up to speed now. So, how does one know what is the same form factor as what? I presume I'd have had to dismantle the EL500 to know what the LED looked like; is it then enough to look at one on a website and think "That looks similar, and has the same power consumption, so I'll use that", or is there a coding or standard that you use to ensure interchangeability?
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Old 11-02-07, 06:32 AM   #16
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.......
I plan on doing a step by step small guide from a newbie prespective which I think will appeal to you and others in the same boat learning. Perhaps those that learn from this can expand and then return to take on the 'newbie' view of doing things to teach others.
Thanks for the offer of the guide, there are others out there that have the same questions.
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Old 11-02-07, 04:58 PM   #17
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See here:

from the thread here:
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=167551

You can see the two LEDs and how they look pretty much the same, the yellow phosphor is larger, thats about the only difference I can see.
You can see how the leads are soldered on. The black bit of plastic on the left holds the LED in place.
The part you need is here:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.2026
Its $5.82 incl shipping.
You will need some thermal paste to put under the LED (conducts heat to the aluminium plate).
This stuff is probably ok at under 2$:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.4593
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Old 11-03-07, 12:41 AM   #18
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Sammy, The Cateye EL500 with an SSC LED will be easiest and the "biggest bang for the buck er sterling". LED Form factor means size but also Die (phosphor square) height. Lenses are made to focus on this height. Luxeon LED and SSC share this height. Cree brand has different height so would focus wrong... The EL 500 (excepting EL500G in Germany) use "simple" electronics. It just resistors restricting the current to (280mah I believe). It will not get very hot at this level and Cateye made sure of it :-) for a good reason (so it don't melt)! The other light powerbeam needs well "everything" Heatsink,electronic driver,LEDs,lenses plus 4 cells instead of 2. Too much to bother with,not a very good host imho. That said I have an EL500 and the beam pattern isnt the best, and they fragile.. What you'll end up with is a super bright Hl EL500 almost twice as bright. For the price and figuring how its done its a decent deal. The SSC and Cree can be driven at much higher levels (1amp+) and brightness with heatsink and better electronics with much less runtime.. If it doesn't work or get broken somehow you can take your SSC Led and move on to bigger things.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:55 AM   #19
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I built one of those light like Allen's, but I chose a different design to avoid extra cutting and sanding. You don't need a sander or any powertools. A file and a hacksaw is all you need, or at least that's all I needed. It took me about 1.5 hour with the housing alone, because I try to do it Allen's way, but didn't work out.



Notice the smooth profile on top as compared to Allen's.
And my mounting option is way better.

When the Seoul V-bin comes out, I'm building another set as I already have the materials.
This thread seems to be running at about the level of my understanding, so I'd like to keep it going. Do you happen to have a photo of this setup with the lights off. Can't really tell what's going on there when all I can see is a white rectangle. Are the emitters in reflectors?

Also, other than the Cateyes mentioned in this thread, are there others that lend themselves to fairly easy upgrading?

And if one were to replace the Cateye "simple" electronics with one of the driver circuits from DXtreme, for example, at what amperage would we expect the Cateye housing to start melting?
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Old 11-07-07, 08:27 AM   #20
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The EL500 uses an identical form factor LED to the dx one recommended. LEDs have increased in EFFICIENCY hugely since the EL500 was made. Meaning you get a lot more light out for the same heat production...ie the light will not get any hotter.
The led is mounted to an aluminium plate which is sufficent to dissipate the heat. The beam pattern is pretty much the same too, so the light pattern will be similar.
This is not the case at all for the powerbeam light, the optics are designed for a bulb not an LED, you will also have to find some significant sized bit of metal to mount the LED to, and build/buy and install a driver circuit (These are 6v bulbs I think, 4x AA batteries?).

For the EL500, you cut the front off, undo a few screws, unsolder the LED, check which way the connections go on the new LED, solder it in(thermal epoxy under the LED if you like) screw it all back together and glue the front back on.
This is pretty much what you'd have to do.
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Old 11-07-07, 10:52 AM   #21
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See here:

from the thread here:
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=167551

You can see the two LEDs and how they look pretty much the same, the yellow phosphor is larger, thats about the only difference I can see.
You can see how the leads are soldered on. The black bit of plastic on the left holds the LED in place.
The part you need is here:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.2026
Its $5.82 incl shipping.
You will need some thermal paste to put under the LED (conducts heat to the aluminium plate).
This stuff is probably ok at under 2$:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.4593
Thanks for the reply. I feel confident in my abilities to replace the electrical parts after I get the case open, but I'm concerned about breaking the plastic instead of cutting it when opening the front - how hard is it to open the front?
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Old 11-07-07, 11:18 AM   #22
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Thanks for this guys - I can feel myself getting smarter....
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Old 11-07-07, 01:10 PM   #23
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Thanks for the reply. I feel confident in my abilities to replace the electrical parts after I get the case open, but I'm concerned about breaking the plastic instead of cutting it when opening the front - how hard is it to open the front?
Yes this is the tricky bit. I used a sharp knife to cut/saw into a small section(where that red line is in the picture, make sure its under the black cover when reassembled to keep it looking stock). Once the groove was big enough I pushed a screwdriver in there and levered it open, slowly working my way around. Its not something you want to rush, but not that hard in the end.
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Old 11-07-07, 04:30 PM   #24
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This thread seems to be running at about the level of my understanding, so I'd like to keep it going. Do you happen to have a photo of this setup with the lights off. Can't really tell what's going on there when all I can see is a white rectangle. Are the emitters in reflectors?
It kind of looks like this.


Except with round lens as oppose to square, because I will change the lens pattern for different type of riding and use (such as night time skiing, hiking).
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