A Brighter 74 Lamp

I was having trouble seeing the turn signal indicator in my 1979 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. Though I am relatively old if you’re young, I didn’t want to look that way driving down 101 with my turn signals on.

When the original thermal turn signal flasher gave up, I replaced it with an electronic flasher. With the engine off I can hear it clicking very clearly – I can’t hear it while the engine is running unless the fuse box is open and I stick my head next to it – not a good driving position since the fuse box is just above the floor.

Probably 40 years ago, I made a turn signal amplifier using a 555 integrated circuit and a Mallory Sonalert. It was annoying, sort of like the beepers that some vehicles have when they’re backing up.

I started looking for a brighter lamp for the turn signal indicator that is mounted below the tachometer. The OEM lamp is a 74 Miniature Indicator Lamp – 14 Volt – T1-3/4 Sub Mini Wedge Base. In bright sunlight, it’s difficult to see if the OEM lamp is flashing. I found an LED replacement lamp that is essentially a SMT LED stuck on the end of a plastic tube with a diode and resistor to drop the voltage. It had the necessary wedge base. I had to file the sides down a little so it would fit in the lamp holder, but it was worth the $5.50. It’s bright enough to see in direct sunlight, but not so bright that it’s too annoying at night.

Jet-I Pro I.B.S. Flashlight

My latest flashlight is the JETBeam Jet-I Pro I.B.S. V1. It uses a single AA size battery to power a Cree XR-E 7090 LED (PDF) (Q5 bin). The JETBeam Jet-I Pro I.B.S. came with a lanyard, removable clip, spare tail cap, two spare o-rings and a warranty card.

BugOutGearUSA.com, where I purchased my Jet-I Pro I.B.S. for $64.95 USD, now lists a Jet-I Pro I.B.S. 2.0. From what I’ve read, the 2.0 is only cosmetically different.

According to JETBeam specs, the lens is sapphire crystal and the body is T6061 T6 aluminum with a type III hard anodized finish. The dimensions: Bezel diameter – 25mm, Tail diameter – 19mm, Overall length – 100mm, while the weight is 50g.

The push button tail cap switch is a “reverse” click type, i.e., the switch will make or break contact after it clicks. I prefer the “tactical” or forward click switch – a forward click switch will allow a half press of the switch to turn on a flashlight.

I tried fitting two forward click switches – one that I removed from my LumaPower D-Mini Digital and a McClicky switch. Neither fit. Unable to find a forward click switch, I settled for replacing the black tail cap with a glow-in-the-dark silicone tail cap.

Because the Jet-I Pro flashlight will accept an input voltage of up to 4.2V, it can use a rechargeable 3.7V 14500 Lithium battery. The Lithium battery gives a not insignificant 100 more lumens when compared to a 1.5V Alkaline AA battery or a 1.2V rechargeable NiMH.

The main attraction of the Jet-I Pro is the I.B.S. (Infinite Brightness Setting) technology. The I.B.S. circuit allows for three operating modes, A, B and C, each of which can be set at any output of ~2 to 225 lumens. Any mode can also be set to one of five strobe modes including 1Hz to 15Hz, warning signal, standby (flash once every 8 seconds), 100% SOS and 5% SOS.

When reading about programming the flashlight, it seems complicated. In practice, it’s relatively simple. BugOutGearUSA.com has a page with the Jetbeam I.B.S. User Interface Instructions.

Output & Runtime (from JETBeam):

AA Battery
Max Output: 130 Lumens, lasting for one hour;
High Output (Default Mode A): 110 Lumens, lasting for 75 min;
Low Output (Default Mode B): 20 Lumens, lasting for 3.5 hours;
Minimum Output: 2 Lumens, lasting for 45 hours;

Rechargeable lithium Battery
Max output: 225 lumens, lasting for half an hour;
High output (Default Mode A) 180 lumens, lasting for 45 min;
Low output (Default Mode B) 20 lumens, lasting for 8 hours;
Minimum Output: 2 lumens, lasting for 50 hours;

Compared to my modded LumaPower D-Mini Digital (Cree Q5, DX 7612, single RCR123 and McClicky) the Jet-I Pro wasn’t as bright. But the D-Mini’s reflector is smooth, is deeper and 50% larger in diameter. The JETBeam Jet-I Pro I.B.S. is a great flashlight for its size and versatility.

Surefire 6P Switch Mod

Surefire 6P Flashlight (photo courtesy of SureFire, LLC)

I bought a Surefire 6P to house my Malkoff Devices M60 drop-in. You have to be kind of a flashaholic to understand that sentence.

Surefire describes the 6P as a “Compact (pocket sized), high-intensity incandescent flashlight for tactical, self-defense, and general use. (It) produces a smooth, brilliant, pre-focused tactical-level beam with three times the light of a big two-D-cell flashlight.”

The 6P’s stock lamp assembly is a P60 incandescent lamp. You can stop right there and you have a great flashlight that puts out 65 lumens.

Malkoff Devices M60 Drop-in

The Malkoff Devices M60 drop-in (now replaced by the M61 with a Cree XP-G) uses a Cree XLamp XR-E LED (Q5 bin) as a replacement for the incandescent lamp. In addition to being more rugged, it puts out 235+ lumens. Gene Malkoff, the creator of the M60 says, “It will easily illuminate objects at 350+ feet and will blind opponents within a 100 foot radius.” That’s what we want.

Naturally, when I get something new, I take it apart and think about how to mod it. My new Surefire’s switch seemed like a good candidate.

The Surefire Z41 tailcap is standard on the 6P. It has a momentary option by pushing the tailcap switch. Rotating the tailcap will turn on the light for constant operation.

Surefire Z41 tailcap with McClicky switch

Most of my flashlights use a forward clicky switch. A slight press of the switch (before it clicks), will momentarily turn on the light and a full press (when the switch clicks), will latch it on. I’ve put the McClicky switch in seven or eight of my flashlights and thought it would work well in the Surefire 6P. I could have bought a Surefire Z59 Click-on Tailcap Switch or the Oveready McClicky Kit for USD $22, but it’s more satisfying making my own.

I yanked out the insides of the existing switch and unscrewed the retaining ring. Sometimes the retaining ring is glued. I’ve put the tailcap in a ziplock bag and boiled it hot water for five minutes and the glue will release.

McClicky Switch with soldered brass tab for contact

Since I only had a plastic retaining ring to hold in the new switch, I soldered a piece of brass to the McClicky switch so that it contacts the inside of the switch housing. I put a dab of solder on the contact on the other side so the retaining ring would seat the switch flat inside the tailcap.

If you have an aluminum or brass retaining ring, there is no need to solder a tab – just screw it in. You must be careful about the inner part of the retaining ring contacting the positive connection on the raised plastic below the contact spring – it will short out the switch and be “on” all the time. A piece of shrink tubing or electrical tape wrapped around it will prevent a short.

Using that piece of brass also meant I had to remove the anodizing from the inside of the housing so the brass tab makes electrical contact with the side of the tailcap. With one mod that I did, I lost the lock out function, which “prevents accidental activation of light during tactical engagements, transportation, or storage,” according to Surefire. On another mod, the lock out still worked. In my case, I’m very unlikely to have a tactical engagement, so I can remove the batteries for transportation and storage.

Glow-in-the-Dark Silicone Tailcap

To bottom it off, I replaced the black rubber push button cover with a Glow-in-the-Dark Silicone Tailcap…maybe a not too tactical feature.

LED Tail Lights

Cree XLamp® XR-E LED (P2 bin)

I had some extra Cree XLamp® XR-E LEDs (P2 bin) when I upgraded some flashlights to Q5 bin LEDs.

When I found a LED circuit board that had an input voltage of 4v-18V, I thought it would work well as a driver for an automotive LED bulb. The circuit board uses a Micro Bridge Technology PT4105 (PDF specs) step down LED driver.

I took an 1156 bulb to use as a base for the circuit board and LED. I broke out the glass and filament and used JB Weld to glue the components together.

BMW Bavaria Tail Light

The LED was brighter than the 1156 bulb, but it had a noticeable hot spot, even though the Cree LED has a 90 degree viewing angle. Heat doesn’t seem to be a problem; the Bavaria’s light socket dissipates the heat well.

Joe Weir, on the Senior Six Mailing List, suggested using a diffuser lens. I’ll have to find something then report back.