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DIY LED and UV dive lights


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#1 tubino

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 02:27 PM

I am about to order some parts to try my hand at DIY LED lights, but before I do, I thought I’d post to learn from others. I want to build cheap high-powered LED dive lights for both the normal light spectrum as well as specifically to excite fluorescence underwater. “Cheap” here means recycling some obsolete dive lights I own, with incandescent / halogen bulbs but useable shells. It occurs to me that the original Princeton Tec 400 is a good candidate for this conversion because it is made for a medium size reflector (about 52mm), has a mechanical switch that can be modified to work, and has the capacity for two 18650 lithium-ion batteries, which gives the possibilities for 3.7 or 7.4v (parallel or series).

This 52.7mm diameter module (LED, reflector, driver board) puts out >1000 lumens, and includes a regulator board to handle a lot of current:

http://www.dealextre...-8-4v-max-35241

If that is TOO bright, here's one that is a little less bright (800 lumens), a little cheaper, but much the same thing with less bright LEDs:

http://www.dealextre...-8-4v-max-26127

Both are brighter than I want unless used with a multi-mode board to allow dimmer settings, but for a UV light, I see potential to use them at the high setting.

To make a light to activate fluorescence, rather than put a filter over a light designed for white light, it looks to me like either one of those modules might be pulled apart to solder in 5 DIFFERENT LEDs that are easily sourced (Newark, Digikey) and would cover a spectrum: 365nm UV, 395-405nm UV, and then three more (purple, blue, green) to cover the rest of the spectrum that activates fluorescence. Carry one light, make everything glow that can! I haven't seen anyone do it, but it seems like a good idea. It would be fairly easy to tape over one or more LEDs to see which is doing what... To make this work with the 5 LEDs in parallel, would require LEDs with similar voltage and current parameters, and adding up to operate in the correct range for the regulator board, but this does not seem overly difficult. I would figure on buying one, measuring current output from the board, and then spec’ing the LEDs based on that.

Another alternative: I have another old light, a Sabrelight that used 3 C cells, so it too could be modified to hold two 18650 batteries. If the batteries were hooked up in parallel, and if I can modify to work with a spring-loaded contact switch that turns on with a couple of twists, it could power this UV module:

http://www.dealextre...3-6v-4-2v-16694

I'm pretty sure that they have a typo, and mean 390 - 405 for the wavelength, not 390-450.

And then on the smallest easiest end of the spectrum, I found I can make an instant UV dive light by using an ancient Tekna light as a shell to hold an entire UV light powered by 3 AAA’s, with just some foam in the bottom to hold it against the front!


I hope to learn from others on this before I order more parts. I got my feet wet on this DIY LED stuff by ordering a CREE XML LED and 2800ma current regulator board. I put it together with a heatsink in a big light (not a dive light) with a sealed lead-acid battery, and it works fine. Soldering SMDs on a tiny board is a challenge, but it's something I can manage a bit.
Nikon D300s, Ikelite housing + 2 Ike DS-160. Tokina 10-17 fisheye, 11-16mm, Sigma 50 macro, Nikon 105 VR, SubSee Magnifier.

#2 Mooseman1007

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 08:33 AM

Great Idea.....I made a similar one using 405nm leds, resoldered into a cheapo dive torch. The multi wavelenght may well be a winner though so as to increase the excitable targets. One thought though....what are you going to use for a barrier filter so you only see the fluorescence and not the incident blue light ?
Moose

#3 tubino

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 12:52 PM

One thought though....what are you going to use for a barrier filter so you only see the fluorescence and not the incident blue light ?
Moose


Seems like whether you're looking for glasses to protect from UV, or buying the commercial alternatives from Nightsea or Glowdive, you get yellow plastic. (acrylic? plexiglass?) I bought a couple of Rosco gel sheets to use as barrier filters above water, just to get a sense of it when using blacklights or filtered strobe as UV source... I can post some photos I took with the gel in front of the lens, but I am not sure how to DIY the barrier sheets. Maybe ordinary plexiglass is fine? The gel sheets come with data on the pass bandwidth, so I thought I could narrow down color that way, then get plastic sheets. OR... if the gel sheets were particularly good, I could sandwich between two pieces of clear plastic and seal all the way around with silicon, and make some to hold in front of (or clamp on) masks, ports, etc. Look at the amazing gel options:
http://www.rosco.com...rs/roscolux.cfm
http://www.fullcompa...Theatrical.html


Here's another thing I didn't mention yet. I bought a couple of Rosco dichroic glass filters that only let UV pass through (aka Woods Glass). The small rectangular one is almost a perfect fit for a Nikon SB-900, so I attached it and tried some shots. I think the pass bandwidth is low and very narrow, so not much of the light from the flash actually gets through. If the results had been more promising I would have adapted a homebrew snoot to put the 2" circular one in front of my Ikelite strobe. Instead I think I'm better off with the tried and proven royal blue filters I see others using.

Maybe Rosco 80 is the right part of the spectrum to put in front of the strobes...

Posted Image

I'm sure I'm plowing through ground others have covered, and I'd love to hear from them. If I lived close to some salt water I could do some trial-and-error, but...

Edited by tubino, 22 February 2012 - 01:32 PM.

Nikon D300s, Ikelite housing + 2 Ike DS-160. Tokina 10-17 fisheye, 11-16mm, Sigma 50 macro, Nikon 105 VR, SubSee Magnifier.

#4 Mooseman1007

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 05:53 AM

I know what you mean....I end up dabbling for a little bit every trip I go away, but its not the most efficient. Pictures of your trial and errors would be great, there are plenty of things around the house which fluoresce so worth a practice on land. Need to get hold of cheap acrylic filters rather than the gel ones. From what I can figure the yellow barrier filter would be best with a ~500nm cutoff so something like a Kodak Wratten no 12. Using a 16 would block more of the blue light, where an 8 or 9 would let more blue through. Emission light should be in the 360-460nm bracket, so I guess the woods glass dichroic would be a bit too narrow @ 430. Not all the stuff you want to fluoresce will work with UV....you need more UV-Blue to get a better spread.
Needs some tinkering I think !
Moose

Seems like whether you're looking for glasses to protect from UV, or buying the commercial alternatives from Nightsea or Glowdive, you get yellow plastic. (acrylic? plexiglass?) I bought a couple of Rosco gel sheets to use as barrier filters above water, just to get a sense of it when using blacklights or filtered strobe as UV source... I can post some photos I took with the gel in front of the lens, but I am not sure how to DIY the barrier sheets. Maybe ordinary plexiglass is fine? The gel sheets come with data on the pass bandwidth, so I thought I could narrow down color that way, then get plastic sheets. OR... if the gel sheets were particularly good, I could sandwich between two pieces of clear plastic and seal all the way around with silicon, and make some to hold in front of (or clamp on) masks, ports, etc. Look at the amazing gel options:
http://www.rosco.com...rs/roscolux.cfm
http://www.fullcompa...Theatrical.html


Here's another thing I didn't mention yet. I bought a couple of Rosco dichroic glass filters that only let UV pass through (aka Woods Glass). The small rectangular one is almost a perfect fit for a Nikon SB-900, so I attached it and tried some shots. I think the pass bandwidth is low and very narrow, so not much of the light from the flash actually gets through. If the results had been more promising I would have adapted a homebrew snoot to put the 2" circular one in front of my Ikelite strobe. Instead I think I'm better off with the tried and proven royal blue filters I see others using.

Maybe Rosco 80 is the right part of the spectrum to put in front of the strobes...

Posted Image

I'm sure I'm plowing through ground others have covered, and I'd love to hear from them. If I lived close to some salt water I could do some trial-and-error, but...



#5 Mooseman1007

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:47 AM

I know what you mean....I end up dabbling for a little bit every trip I go away, but its not the most efficient. Pictures of your trial and errors would be great, there are plenty of things around the house which fluoresce so worth a practice on land. Need to get hold of cheap acrylic filters rather than the gel ones. From what I can figure the yellow barrier filter would be best with a ~500nm cutoff so something like a Kodak Wratten no 12. Using a 16 would block more of the blue light, where an 8 or 9 would let more blue through. Emission light should be in the 360-460nm bracket, so I guess the woods glass dichroic would be a bit too narrow @ 430. Not all the stuff you want to fluoresce will work with UV....you need more UV-Blue to get a better spread.
Needs some tinkering I think !
Moose


Well I have had a play with some different barrier filters on land and still havent got the right combination. I got hold of a cokin 001 yellow (equivalent to wratten #8) and while the colours were good, there was too much blue light being let through. On the other side, the cokin 002 (wratten #21) cuts the blue out but colour reproduction isnt so good, greens look yellow and the whole image has a yellow/orange cast. Just ordered the Tiffen Yellow #12 which should hopefully be the best of both worlds, and is a filter I have seen published scientifically for green fluorescent protein imaging. The best emission filter in the literature seems to be a wratten #98 (or a #47B and 2B combined) but I havent got hold of one of those yet to try using a normal strobe. The Rosco #80 looks like a good starting point but some of the red needs filtering out. You should be able to tailor the leds to have a range of wavelengths from 360-460 to give yourselve the best excitation light.
Let me know how it goes
Moose

#6 LarsB

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 03:16 AM

Dear tubino,
dear Mooseman1007,

you can find some ideas on how to use existing torches and how to modify them for fluorescence diving here: http://guest.engelsc...ving/#Equipment

When using blue LEDs (450-460 nm), you need an additional excitation filter in front of your torch's lens from Rosco (Permacolor Glass Dichroic Filters) of the type "Medium Red Blue" #34600/#4600.

And of course a yellow filter in front of your mask and camera. I use those from NightSea: http://www.nightsea....hotoblue_ms.htm

You can also find a video of fluorescence diving in Dutch (cold!) waters here: http://guest.engelsc...ving/#Dreischor

Good luck!

Edited by LarsB, 17 May 2012 - 03:22 AM.


#7 juicebuster2

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 11:41 AM

To save cash just run 1 x seoul p7's direct from either 3 x 1.2v NiMH in series or 1 x Li ion at 3.7 v.

The nominal current on these is 3.6 so no need for constant current crap, and before everyone says you need the constant current stuff I have been running this setup for the last 2 years with perfect results.

Cheers

Jools

#8 RobertJC55

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:44 AM

What charger would you use to charge the 18650 Li ion batteries?

regards,

Robert
Kind regards,


Robert

#9 LarsB

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 06:18 AM

Hello Mooseman1007,

a Tiffen yellow #12 as barrier filter is indeed what you need.
Somebody also recommended me a #15 Wratten filter as an alternative.

However, there is a difference in the images you obtain with such glass filters and with plexiglas filters, e.g. those sold by http://www.nightsea....arrier-filters/
the former produce duller images which mainly only show reds and greens, whereas the latter produce brighter and more colorful images,
apparently because they "leak" a very tiny little bit of blue light.
The video mentioned above (http://picasaweb.goo...441065907391042) was made with such a glass filter.
See the difference with a plexiglas barrier filter in this video: https://picasaweb.go...504863416618418

Edited by LarsB, 11 October 2012 - 06:22 AM.


#10 bvanant

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 11:04 AM

What charger would you use to charge the 18650 Li ion batteries?

regards,

Robert

There are a boatload of cheap chargers on ebay for $15 or so that work fine, go to the candlepower forums to look at this in detail (far too much detail)
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#11 Scuba_Kurt

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:33 PM

I have built my own light out of a Princeton Tec Miniwave LED i had hanging around. I replaced the current LEDs with blue ones that are 475nm from seoul. they are very bright and give great color and it was very easy to do. I also ordered a bluestar light with barrier filter and the excitation and barrier filter for my camera, all from nightsea. the barrier for the filter for my camera is a tiffen #12. my question is that the light that the light i built doesn't show as much fluorescence as nightsea's light. it seems the PT Light is too bright do i need to add a filter to get similar results?

#12 tamas970

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:29 AM

What is the power rating of the LEDs you bought?

 

 

I am also thinking to put a blue-light together for photography but I guess I'll need

around 50W (e.g this module). Meaning that I'll need a better power source, maybe a

new driver and a heatsink.

 

 

I have built my own light out of a Princeton Tec Miniwave LED i had hanging around. I replaced the current LEDs with blue ones that are 475nm from seoul. they are very bright and give great color and it was very easy to do. I also ordered a bluestar light with barrier filter and the excitation and barrier filter for my camera, all from nightsea. the barrier for the filter for my camera is a tiffen #12. my question is that the light that the light i built doesn't show as much fluorescence as nightsea's light. it seems the PT Light is too bright do i need to add a filter to get similar results?


Edited by tamas970, 01 July 2013 - 02:33 AM.


#13 LarsB

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 02:53 AM

BTW, everything you ever wanted to know about underwater fluorescence explained:
On The Rise: Fluorescence Night Dives - Background, Basics and Techniques

 



#14 LarsB

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 11:25 AM

Even more great info about underwater fluorescence and fluorescence diving can be found here:

http://www.fluomedia.org/science/
http://www.fluopedia.org/publications/