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Old 07-18-2014, 07:13 PM #1
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Default Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

I purchased a 3 watt blue laser from SBA/sinner about a year ago. The laser worked well for about a week; maybe 30 minutes total use using a very conservative 40-60 second duty cycle. After that initial week, it rapidly got dimmer with each use. It was such a pain communicating with the builder that I gave up trying to get his help with it. I was sick at the time, and simply didn't have the energy. That's neither here nor there, and I now fully intend to repair this laser on my own dime and my own time.

The final time I used the laser, the light faded until it completely shut off. Furious, I threw the laser into it's case and left it in my closet for months. Since then, I've fully recovered from my medical issue, and I decided to take a look at the laser again. I took it out of the case, charged the batteries, and once again attempted to use this jewel. As expected, nothing; it was totally dead. When I pulled the batteries from the host this time, the pill fell backwards with them. Now, I don't know much about lasers, but I don't think that the pill is supposed to be loose inside the host?

I took a hex key and loosened the diode until I could pull the entire assembly out of the host. On inspection, I see no adhesive of any type that was holding the pill in. Is this normal? I took a piece of aluminum foil and wrapped it around the batteries and the pill as a makeshift "host," and BAM the laser comes on, albeit incredibly dim. I wrapped a tiny piece of aluminum foil around the pill and slid it back into the Envy host along with the diode. This was enough to hold the pill in place.

The laser now "works" but is still incredibly dim. The host heats up the same as it did when it was at "full power." Additionally, I find that the clicky power button on the back of the host is somewhat shoddy and I must wiggle it before the laser turns on.

What should I do now? Do I need something more conductive than aluminum foil to test with? Do my driver or diode sound like they're damaged? And what of the clicky; how do I fix that on a sinner Envy host?

Thank you for any help!


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Old 07-18-2014, 09:55 PM #2
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

Could you post some pics? Pictures always help.

I'm not familiar with that host, but usually the pill is screwed in or pressed in. Common flashlight host, like the C6, have a brass ring you press the driver in(if it's round) which is then pressed into the pill, which is screwed into the host.

You said you "threw" it in it's case. If you literally did throw it, you may have knocked it loose. A drop onto a hard surface can break the innards of a diode. 405nm diodes are particularly fragile in this regard.

However, assuming gentle handling, the diode may have just died. The 9mm 445s usually are driven at 2.3 - 2.4A to hit 3W of output. Heavily overdriven, their life time is drastically shortened. Some have died after a few minutes at that current, though most at least last a little while.

Which driver is it? I know SBA used both blitzbucks and X-drives.

If it were me, I would remove the diode and put the driver on a test load to see if it's still operating normally. If it checked out, it's likely the diode gave out. Unless any part of the driver/diode connections look loose or off.
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Old 07-19-2014, 12:31 AM #3
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

I can't actually remember if I "threw" the laser, or placed it gently into the case. Usually I'm gentle and caring with my electronics, but I remember being particularly upset. There's a chance that I may have thrown it; however, the case is padded. I'm not really sure, but yes, there's the possibility that the pill came loose at that time.

Here's some pictures...

Overview:


The driver:


Back of the pill:


Clicky:


Clicky inside:


A look into the back of the host. It's hard to see, but it's just a long shaft that the pill slides down. At the front it becomes narrower to mount the diode.


The front end of the host. A small hex screw resides inside of the tripod screw hole, which holds the diode in place.



I can supply more pictures if you'd like a close up of anything in-particular.
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Old 07-19-2014, 05:55 AM #4
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

The diode is probably dead or close to it. Do you remember how you were using the laser when it was fully operational? Overuse of the diode(past its duty cycle), clicking the button on and off in rapid succession can rapidly shorted a diode's life.
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Old 07-19-2014, 06:31 AM #5
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

In the picture of the driver, it looks like the negative lead to the diode isn't connected good. Can you tell if it's soldered to the other side of the driver? If not, that could be the problem. If it's not connected good resolder and see what happens. Diode may still be dead though.

That's the only obvious thing I could see.

It would be a good idea to put the driver on a test load regardless.
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:45 AM #6
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

One thought: It could be that the tailcap is faulty. If you put everything back in there, try maybe using a wire(not aluminum foil) to connect the back of the battery with the host. I know I had one of my tailcap switches die on a sinner host before.

Also definitely check the connections in the pill.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:06 AM #7
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

Wonderful advice, thank you all.

What's the best way for me to remount the pill inside of the host? Without the aluminum foil, it just slides freely inside.

@upaa27
I was using it very conservatively with 40-60 seconds duty cycles and then 5 minutes to cool. Sinner did warn me about duty cycles, and I believe he told me that this host and diode combo would handle about 3 minutes on 3 minutes off. I didn't want to push it, since it was quite an investment.

@ChaosLord
I think I should probably completely replace the wires going to the diode. They feel like they've been bent near the solder joints a few too many times, and they're wobbly. That negative lead looks almost lifted off the driver, but it does have *some* contact. When I redo those wires it would be a good time to run a test load. Is there a test load you recommend? I've seen a few of these little boards people call test loads in the trade forum. Is that what you're referring to?

@IsaacT
Is there any route to repair the tailcap, or is it best to have sinner make me a new one(if that's even possible)?
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Old 07-19-2014, 05:07 PM #8
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

Flamingpyro sells a really nice test load, but it's a bit expensive. There are threads that tell you how to build one, if you want to go that route. Any of those you saw should work. Their basically small circuit boards with several diodes in series with a 1 or 10 ohm resistor.

A test load is good to have around, especially if you get into building.

Yeah, if that negative lead did get disconnected for even a millisecond, that could have killed the diode.
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Old 07-19-2014, 06:26 PM #9
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

The pill in your envy looks real similar to the pill in my MS-SSW host from sinner, if it's the same one, it's a press fit.
It looks as if the pill in yours has been filed, or sanded down for an easier press fit (mine was very tight until I carefully filed a little stock off of it). Yours may very well be just a little too loose to stay in place now.
You can try a few different things to help; you can wrap it like you already have, or if you have a small center punch,
you can gently punch around the outside of the pill to raise the aluminum up around the punch marks, which makes the O.D. of the pill a bit larger.
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:14 AM #10
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

Excellent; thanks guys. I'll hit you both up with some more rep when the forum lets me again.

Once I can get my hands on all this stuff I'll let you know how it turns out.
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Old 07-20-2014, 07:11 AM #11
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

A diode will run hotter when it dims. We call this "going LED" because it doesn't lase
anymore but still emits a light similar to LEDs. It runs hotter because there are less
photons "evaporating" out of it and carrying the heat away. This combination of low output
and heat generation is a sure sign that the diode has gone caputz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoformX View Post
I think I should probably completely replace the wires going to the diode.
I would think twice about doing that. It looks like the wires go through the hole and aren't
just soldered to the surface. X-Drives have a huge thermal mass and getting the holes
cleaned out is near impossible even with a solder vacuum. These are silicone wires, so
they are going to be very flexible. I would look for broken strands and if there are none
then leave it alone. If there are, it might be easier to just get a new driver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoformX View Post
Is there any route to repair the tailcap, or is it best to have sinner make me a new one(if that's even possible)?
Jumpy switches are known for causing power spikes that can LED a diode. It would be a
good idea to get that taken care of before replacing the LED. The metal button part is
probably glued on and has to be pulled fairly hard to remove it. It looks like there are holes
next to the spring. You can try putting something and twisting to see if it unscrews or
pries off. Then pull on that to get the button to come off.

Laser diodes are also extremely static sensitive. An ESD strap should be worn at all times
during handling.
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Old 07-21-2014, 06:34 PM #12
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lightning Stalker View Post
A diode will run hotter when it dims. We call this "going LED" because it doesn't lase
anymore but still emits a light similar to LEDs. It runs hotter because there are less
photons "evaporating" out of it and carrying the heat away. This combination of low output
and heat generation is a sure sign that the diode has gone caputz.



I would think twice about doing that. It looks like the wires go through the hole and aren't
just soldered to the surface. X-Drives have a huge thermal mass and getting the holes
cleaned out is near impossible even with a solder vacuum. These are silicone wires, so
they are going to be very flexible. I would look for broken strands and if there are none
then leave it alone. If there are, it might be easier to just get a new driver.



Jumpy switches are known for causing power spikes that can LED a diode. It would be a
good idea to get that taken care of before replacing the LED. The metal button part is
probably glued on and has to be pulled fairly hard to remove it. It looks like there are holes
next to the spring. You can try putting something and twisting to see if it unscrews or
pries off. Then pull on that to get the button to come off.

Laser diodes are also extremely static sensitive. An ESD strap should be worn at all times
during handling.
Damn, after reading your post it sounds like it'd be better to just trash this entire host and all the parts. Oh well, that's what I get for putting it in someone else's hands. People just don't give a crap about quality these days.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:41 PM #13
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

If you want, you could see if some one on here will fix it.

Or you could sell it to some one as is.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:28 PM #14
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Default Re: Help with 3 watt 445nm MS-Envy going dim

Yeah, that would be throwing money away. Those hosts are worth something even with no diode, and it
looks like you have kept it in very good condition.
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