Ultimate 500+ Headlamp, DANs Work With My Design




In pursuit of a really good headlamp, without the need of paying a pile of money large enough to fill my apartment for it, I stumbled on dan´s idea for a headlamp and I liked it from beginning.
so I sketched my plans, invested and cashed in some friend-checks, and now it it is built.
This is what I use today when traveling down to the really big caves with the heighest ceilings :) and it works perfectly!
on request I made my own small instructable to take interested people through the process.

looking back on the costs of making this lamp, I managed (hand on heart) to get it down to:
LED´s  - 25$
Buckpuck driver - 30$ (shipping included)
Battery case - 3$
Some new batteries, 4 of them - 28$
The casing was for free - YES! YES! YES! - thx Robin!!!

which bring the cost down to 86$. I would say a GIGANTIC leap from the 300-400$ pricerange of a more serious headlamp from for example Petzl, Silva or Black Diamond.
And it really really REALLY does deliver the same amount of light as they do.

The only drawback might be that the batterylife for the expensive ones is longer, but if you switch up from standard AA to LIthium batteries ( as I will do ) you should get even more for the small amount of money you put into it.

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Step 1: Design

Bored close to unconsciousness, a day in class, I sketched on a piece of paper and came up with the design shown below. You can tell I am not an engineer because I write my mesurements in centimeters :)
The picture of how to draw the wires is just a copy from that of dan´s. but it was a good idea to repeat it to myself.
my thoughts on the design was that it should be as small as possible, but with enough aluminium around the LED´d to take away the heat. And to get a design that is not already on the market is not too bad either. :D

By a crazy coincidance
, i found when sketching, that a danish "1 krone" coin has if traced around with a pen, almost the exact same diameter of an luxeon 1w LED. So I used it for my drawings. :)

Working with CAD software ( the working part is done by my friend Robin ), my idea of an aluminium casing came one step closer to the real world, with a 3D model.

My thought was to leave room for a plexiglas sheet to protect the lenses from scratches, it would be held in place by 4 screws, or bolts or whatever. the plexiglas sits on a lowered ledge to not stick out and take the beating of rocks and dirt in my way, when crawling underground.

The smaller sketch of a lamp with only 2 LED´s is in the making today. :)

Step 2: Friends, You Simply Cant Have Enough of Them...

Thx robin for helping me here :) much appreciated.... and perhaps you will help me with the next one? :P
Not shure what the machine is called or what the terms are for the different steps in the process of making my case, but if someone wants to know, I can find out...


Step 3: Testing, Keep Cats Away for This Step.

Tested the wiring on a small electronics board, and it worked just fine. It was very suprising to se the LED´s pump out so much light....
From my workstation ( the kitchen ) I compared my light with a smaller light which i have used and thought of as enough before....never again.
My own light is only on half power at the time, but it is so much brighter than my old one.
If you build one of these, use sunglasses.... I mean it! 

Step 4: Fit LEDs and Lenses

My tedious measurements of diameters, heights and so on, paid off!
The leds and lenses fits perfectly in the case and is also allowing for the plexiglas sheet to fit without problems...

It took some time and effort to arrange the leds in such a way that my wiring didnt get in the way of the lens holders.

Step 5: To Quote One of My Favorite TV-show Hosts...."POWWEERRRRRR"

I use 4 or 8 AA batteries ~2500 mAh which gives my lamp a lifetime of about 16 hours when using the high-mode a bit too much in large caves and big spaces, but they are rechargable so it works good enough.

And for controlling the power I have my small control unit which has 3 basic buttons:
*on/off - which puts it at 25%
*1 - 50-60%
*2 - max power

The End?

Will move up toward Lithium batteries as a mentioned before, as soon as I can see a reasonable priceag somewhere...
I am now also moving up on my ideas for the next headlamp, or maybe a remake of the one already made, with my new and very very shiny luxeon rebel tri-stars 540lm.
maybe I will post it here when I am done :)
if I missed something, or seem to be wrong somewhere, please say so and I will see what I can do.

I hope this can encourage others to make something like this. it works very nice indeed and have been a lot of fun along the way.
Thanks again Dan!

Step 6: Future Design

next case for a headlight seems to be one made for two LEDs. it will probably  be enought because I will use the 540 lumen luxeon rebel tri-stars in it :)

this one will obviously be smaller than the last one with half as many stars, but also because the tri-stars only have 7,2 mm of height compared to older luxeons I used that have 16,2 mm.
this leaves more room for heatsink design. perfect. 

here are some pictures of the design.
what is missing is some holes on the backside which will be used for mounting.

we will try to make this within a week or a month :P

Step 7: Headlamp Nr 2!!!

So finally, the process of making the second headlamp has started. It is almost complete now, with only the large block on the back of the lamp left to be removed.
I brought the thing home to fit LEDs and test it out early. And thankfully, the LEDs are a perfect fit. it seems to be pretty bright too.

I think it came out pretty nice :D ....don´t you?
Can´t wait for it to be finished!



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    29 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Please provide guide for ver 2.


    3 years ago


    I feel bad that nowadays I would make it with one 12V 10W LED, And salvaged 18650 batteries, With $86 I could probably make ~200 of them :(


    8 years ago on Step 6

    try the t6 led in it


    8 years ago on Step 7

    Great lamp. I am completing my third headlamp using two Rebel Tri-Stars. I ended up building my own Aluminum housing out of basic items for a hardware store and using Arctic Adhesive to 'glue' heat fins. I would however LOVE to buy one of your casings! Do you have a spec sheet any chance? like a CAD drawing?

    Also, I plan to use 18650 batteries (two per LED). Do you use any protection circuits? Someone mentioned using these: http://www.all-battery.com/protectivepcbsforli-ionandli-polymerbatterypacks.aspx
    not sure which one to use though. I could always use CR123 batteries (4 batteries total to make 12volts) worked perfect on my previous lamp using one Rebel Tri-Star.

    Let me know how to order one of your casings! Love it!

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hi again! I have here a basic cad drawing as requested, so let me know what you think and get back to me :) If you like, email me at escan@gmail.com


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    im out hiking today, but I will get back to you as soon as I get home again :) sometime tomorrow I guess...
    It should not be aproblem if you want to buy one from us.
    will check then for a cad drawing.... its solidworks, just so you know. :)
    we will have to specify some thing about it, like holes in it, the backside etc.
    see you later then!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Good instructable, and very nice construction.  It is also a nicely done DIY thing.  But for lazier people...  http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.29489 (900 lumens--claimed!) for $80...

    7 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    OR EVEN MORE LAZY. 4100 LUMENS it has the world record. and only 99dollars. my key board dont have a dollar sign...


    enjoy.. lol


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    thx for the comment, much appreciated.  :)
    but a bonus for having a lamp with 4 leds instead of one, is that I can have multiple lenses and therefore if I choose, a wider beam of light or a comnbination of wide´s and spot´s. generally you get a larger, wider and (not always, sure) better beam.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Cons of getting what you are suggesting.
    Bad battery, will die.  Isn't water proof.
    Beam isn't adjustable
    hard to find in stock

    bright for 1 led
    great mount.
    Hi/low/flash option

    Yes that would be good for people that don't want to spend time building there own
    Pros of doing it yourself
    Different led options
    Different beam patterns
    Upgrade leds when you want. Or as prices drop
    Different colors for each led

    more expensive then above suggestion
    Time consuming

    Okay notes to add to your next version. 
    Maybe add some fins to keep weight/heat under control.
    Add a signal coiled wire at the end, instead of 2 wires so its easier to glue.
    Or maybe a 3mm or 5mm female end so you can be sure nothing gets in, and incase you drop it wires won't be pulled from led.  It will just get unplugged if you use a female to maie plug.

    You can think about some 18650 tab rechargeable (3.6v or 3.7v)
    place them in parallel to extend time. Plus have 2 or so in series to meet the voltage requirements.  This is perfect for you as a head lamp but I am seeing it as a bike light. Especially the smaller one you have in the picture.  I think for what your using it for a blue or cyan color would be brighter.  Not sure

    Thanks for posting it to give me a better idea.  Most of the money should and will always go to batteries. 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    yes, the heatsink design is next on my list. for the smaller case with 2 leds which will be with rebel tri-stars I will attempt something new.
    a good thing is that the tri-stars have about half the height  of normal luxeons with their lensholders and lenses, which gives extra room for heatsinks without compromising too much, the size and functionality...
    thx for helping me out with the lithiums btw :)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    With battery's do some research, like how cold they can go and stuff like that. But here are a few links to help you out.

    These could be good also for the smaller unit, that way you can figure out a heatsink for it since there only 10mm


    8 years ago on Step 7

    I just found your lamp and I am just amazed by your skill and use of technology!
    I need 2 lamps: one for ski mountaineering racing and second for downhill biking.
    Basically I am looking for as much light but for little weight and price. Can I fit 2 http://www.luxeonstar.com/Neutral-White-4100K-20mm-Tri-Star-Rebel-660-lm-p/mr-wn120-20t.htm on it? If so what type of battery do I need? Would the buckpuck http://www.luxeonstar.com/700mA-Ext-Dimmable-BuckPuck-Driver-PCB-Mount-p/3021-d-e-700.htm work?
    Do you sell these Al casings?

    Thanks in advance

    5 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hi and sorry for not being home to answer your questions, have been traveling for a couple of weeks.... :)
    for the buckpuck driver I would recommend the 1000 mA http://www.luxeonstar.com/1000mA-Int-Dimmable-BuckPuck-Driver-PCB-Mount-p/3021-d-i-1000.htm
    this one have the same specs as the one you mention, but the output current is higher. the tri-star-rebel LED that you want to use is actually the same that I am currently using in my new headlamp, and it really shines :) although I use one with a bit more natural lighting in it, the "warm white".
    it works in the same way as with less powerful LEDs, but it of course needs more power to work on absolute full. thats why i choose the 1000 mA one...
    as for two of the stars?, havnent tried it but i see no reason why it should not work, as long as you have sufficient heatsinks, and battery power.
    for batteries i use 18650 lithium batteries, 3 or 5 of them depending on what activity i am in. they do the job very good, and deliver a constant current very efficiently. it feels nice to light up areas of a footballcourt with a headlamp :P
    if there is anything else you are wondering about, im happy to try to answer any questions. almost forgot, yes, we do manufacture these casings among others. have had a few qustomers already :)
    have a nice one!


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    You have some of these cases for sale?, where would I find that info,?
    thanks and incredable build by the way


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi! and Thx! i do not have any more ready to go right now. if you like to buy one, im afraid the production will take a week, because my partner in crime is on a short vacation. but if you can wait?.....it should not be a problem. :)
    the info on what buckpuck are good for what and so on, ive gathered partly from DAN, from luxeonstar and various forums on the subject.... i basically just googled it in the beginning. then experiments on my own.
    nice to hear people have interest :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    I'm just starting to look into this, I know nothing about electronics, so it will be a bit before I'm ready. Wonder what price range for the casing, because of couse I'm cheap thats why I'm here, but in the end I should end up with the most badass head lamp for ice climbing, cycling, ect...


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    this one, even though it is smaller than my first case, takes longer to manufacture, and that makes it a bit more expensive, so that would make the price to around 50$, with good quality aluminium.
    but the design is partly up to you also. how would you like the design on the back to be? a flat back with a simple hole through it? think about that also :)
    i know what you mean with having the most badass lamp around :) that was what i had in mind when i started this.