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  1. #1
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    Modding an old-style L&M Vega with a modern LED

    So I've had this vega a while now and due to the evil influence of this forum I discovered DX. I just received the Cree XR-R2 (wg) star's I ordered a bit ago (the ultrafire flashlight came quickly, the bulbs sat in customs for a while). So I took apart the vega, de-soldered the luxeon star and soldered on the cree. I decided to add a steel washer as a spacer as the cree's metal base was ~1mm thinner. I took some cheesy before and after shots in my basement and the after is astoundingly brighter at the ~9ft distance from the shoe I used to hold the light to the ceiling. The problem comes up with how now f the light is bumped, it flips off. Also it appears as if the runtime on the light is around 20 minutes...

    The runtime thing I don't think directly correlates to the led as in the couple of times I have used the light this fall it has switched over to the about_to_die low power mode with flashing rear indicator. I think the batteries are on their way out and will see about putting in some NiMH AA batteries I have into the housing. The ones there now are 2000mAh and the rechargeables I have are 2500mHa so that will be a nice bump though I may find a problem as the stock ones appear the be flat-topped. I think there's enough leeway to handle the button tops on the new ones. There is also the possibility that the old batteries weren't fully charged despite the indicator... indicating they were.

    So that's where things stand, may have killed my light, may just be the end of the ~3 year old battery life where they were recharged nightly in the dark months all that time. If nothing else I get a much brighter light that will work fine for my current commute on the occasions I bike instead of run in the winter. Unfortunately I will probably be tripling my commute shortly. More to come with the battery swap and checking the connections (slight possibility that I loosened a connection in the led swap and checking out the battery pack), hopefully tomorrow.

    One question I have is that on the new LED's (I got two for fun at <$7) the 'bulb' is attached to the led/star with a rubber cement moist type adhesive. On the first I brushed off the excess and got an air bubble under the dome. Is there a preferred optical adhesive to use here? Working in a lab I probably have a few options to try but work saw fit the other day to lay off our Swiss machinist who would know exactly which drawer the proper acrylic was in and how long before it reached it's expiration date.

  2. #2
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    And that's why one shouldn't solder electronics while enjoying a gin and tonic... one of the connections on the battery pack was loose and shifted when bumped. Decided to button it back up with the stock batteries for now and keep the new ones as a later option. will check the runtime tonight.

  3. #3
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    I asked about this topic and got no responses so you must be one of the first to try this.

    How did you get the unit open without breaking anything? How did you reseal it?

    Do you think that you will be able to use the Vega's recharger to recharge the new batteries that you are considering?

    Assuming the batteries hold a full charge, shouldn't the runtime increase because the new LED is much more efficient which more than offsets the additional light output.

    I have no need to mod this but if it could be done cheaply I might give it to a friend. What kind of soldering iron would I need? Should I get someone with experience to do it since I have none and am not very good do it yourselfer.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  4. #4
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    To open the vega you have to twist off the reverse threaded lens cap, it might be a bit tight from the factory. I'm not too concerned with the seal on it as it hass an o-ring, I do plan on using some silicone grease on the ring and threads just for good measure. The batteries in it are 200mAh NiMH's there's a sticker on the battery pack that could provide more info but I didn't write it down and the light is down with my bike right now. Basically they're standard AA rechargables and I'm not worried about the new ones working.

    I think that now with the intermittent disconnect taken care of the runtime won't be much different if not a little better. Would be interesting to be able to compare the bulb specs but haven't found the old one's around (or really looked). It does seem to put out some heat while on in my hand, but couldn't say that it is more than before.

    I used a basic iron and it's not too hard to do, though a vice to hold the assembly helps as whenever soldering it seems like you need three hands. There are two metal strips (positive and negative, labeled on the boards as well) from the base control board to the LED star. The star is held onto the top mount by two small screws and the tabs in the star press fit onto two posts. A quick touch of heat to the solder on the star and you can push back the metal strips and free the board. I used a steel washer then to space the new one close to the old and solder the strip back together, keeping mind of the polarity. I'd say this is a pretty easy job if you have a soldering iron (or were looking for an excuse to get one). You'll need that, some solder, and if you wanted to be extra clean some solder wick to clean off the old stuff. Try not to leave a big blob at the end as the bulb head has to go around the star.

    If you have an old light with a star board arrangement, this looks to be totally worth the couple of buck investment. Can't wait for it to get dark tonight.

  5. #5
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    I would appreciate it very much if you would post your impression of the light output improvement results and any further modifications needed or obstacles encountered.

    I maybe interested in modifying mine. This is the third season for my Vega and I have not used it enough to tell for certain, but it appears that my runtime has dimished also. This light has good optics and a nice case so I thought it would be an excellent candidate for upgrading. My battery life had not deteriorated to the point that I was willing to open it up yet and economically it makes no economic sense to spend the dollars for a factory refurbish.

    For now I have a Princeton Swithcback 3 that I purchased on closeout at Colorado Cyclist and paid about the same price as my Vega. It is working fine but the switch was defective on the first unit so you never know when it could quit working and I might need a backup. I have the PT SW3 on the bars and a Fenix on the helmet and like the combination. If I had not about the Fenix sooner, I might have one on the bar as well instead of the PT SW3.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  6. #6
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    So used the light a few times throughout the day, then commuting home, leaving it on since then. It started flashing indicating low battery ~15 minutes in and dropped to medium power. Crestfallen I walked the dog leaving it on, then flipping it back to full power after 20 minutes of medium. I then places it on a window sill and semi-forgot about it till now at 2.5 hours in I remembered to look up and it was dead. Pretty sure it was alive after 2 hours but couldn't say after that. As mycommute can be done in under 15 minutes currently... that'll work, annoyed that it thinks it is dead that soon with 1:45 or so left... interesting that it allows to switch back to full power though. As I have the AA batteries I'll set them up and put them in gaining the 500mAh per battery besides being new batteries with only a coupe of charge cycles.

    As for recommendations, I'd pt this as one that is definitly worth it for the increased light output (between 2x and 3x by my eye) and the ~7 dollar price for the led. I would probably only do it if ordering other items at the time of course. now considering the new 4x mc-e led modules

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