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Thread: blackburn x8 mod (cree q5) - 2 x 228 lumen setup

  1. #1

    Default blackburn x8 mod (cree q5) - 2 x 228 lumen setup

    okay... now that i found a working kit... i can now start my modding! let the fun begin...

    the base kit i purchased was a blackburn x8 kit. it uses 2 luxeon 75 lumen leds? very good light out of the box. worthy for new riders on the trail, but might be short on distance for fast downhillers. battery run times for x8 is great. 2 hours and 40 minutes run time before it hits the 30% low power mark. 2 hours and 55 minutes until cutoff, which in my eyes is great run times especially on 100% power.

    now for the goodies, i am going to swap out the luxeon 3 leds for cree q5 bin leds. which are rated at over 3 times the output at the same power consumption. this will give the blackburn a final output of 456 lumens at a run time of about 3 hours.

    do get this project done you will need:

    blackburn kit
    2 x new leds
    solder gun
    artic illumina (none adhesive)
    precision screw driver (phillips)

    so you all know what the stock kit looks like. so here is what the light engine looks like all part.

    angle with view into light engine to see mounted led

    from here you just unload the led and disconnect with soldering iron.

    here is the leds side by side... the luxeon is thicker, so you will need to space the optics so that there will be no movement of the interenals.

    then reattach the new led. and place inside with new arctic illumina. make sure not to touch the led emitter.

    you have to be careful when pulling out and putting the led back into the unit. sides of the housing are easy to scratch. not critical, but wanted everything to be simple and clean. yes, i used a notebook to solder on top of. also make sure you make note of how long you can keep an led heated... some leds have good resistance but some don't, so when you solder try to make it quick but clean.

    funny trick... you can put the leds in the spiral part of the notebook and it will hold it down well. i didn't have a work bench or a solding platform... so i made due with what i had...

    so, what are you guys all looking for? the beam patterns. so, i modded my narrow beam so that it would be easier to see the actual patterns easy, i figured the wide would be too diffused.

    OMG! can you see the brightness difference? the pattern is alot wider, and the intensity is just amazing! this is why i went through so many return (on the x6 system) so that i can get this project up and running.

    i want to try to test out both new and old ont he street, but may not be have the patience to wait to take pics... i just just mod it and ride it... i want to return the last x6 system as the battery is not lasting more then 1 hour. which was unexeptable even at a very low price.

    i went outside, the beam pattern is alittle wider and the color is a bit whiter. i know it is alittle vague, but i like the effect. i think it made the narrow beam alittle wider, and i think the wide beam might be alitle narrower focus, with good spill. i think i have good hopes for this modded setup. i am going to try to make a fullerton night ride this week.

    the wide beam i just modded. it is just super bright all around and very wide...

  2. #2
    STR Veteran 92se-r's Avatar
    Oct 2007
    San Diego



  3. #3


    Hello, Thank you very much for showing your work on this light set. Only a few more questions and I'm going to mod my light the same way.... First where did you pick up the new Cree Xlamps at? Would you be willing to post a link for me please??
    And the other question that I have is what is artic illumina (none adhesive)? Thank you very much again... I look forward to hearing from you soon..

  4. #4


    this is the page for the thermal paste... arctic alumina... sorry for the mis spelling... but you need to get the non adhesive version, or else you will never be able to change out the leds... the good thing about these lights is that you can upgrade as new leds come out... which means almost endless adjustability... when you take out the stock leds, the paste will be messed up... so it is best to clean it up and put in fresh paste... this transfers heat away from led which hurts its performance and life... not like it will matter all that much... but it is just good... and at only a few bucks, get the best... i use this stuff in my computer... so i had some around.

    the cree lams can be found at a few places... try to find a local seller as a good portion of leds come from over seas...

    here is a good place if you want to buy a few... i bought a bunch a while back from somewhere else, but these prices aren't bad at all... i ended up moding a few for local people who also bought light kits when i bought some... make sure to get full size star bases. also, you will have to take into consideration how thick the led board is... because not all boards are made alike... but it is easy to just put in some type of non conductive washer...

  5. #5


    You are just to good to us!! Thank you so much. My new LED's are on the way.

  6. #6


    hahahahaha... no problem... i did this mod a while back ago... there should be a source for the r2 leds now...

    they were being distributed then i was shopping for leds, so they weren't readily available... there have been some reviews on the r2 led and there isn't a big reason to buy for the price. just wait for the r4 or r5 to become redily available. it will be a bigger difference...

    p4 is 130 lumens, about 5 bucks shipped each
    q5 is 228 lumens each, about 7 bucks shipped each
    r2 is 275 lumens each, about 20 bucks each shipped when i shopped back then?
    r4/r5 may be more then 300 lumens each?

    incase you are curious... here is a guy who compared the q5 to the r2...

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Intense Whore mfoga's Avatar
    Apr 2008
    Moreno Valley


    I can vouch for these modded lights. He helped me mod mine and the difference was huge. I rode with them before and after the mod and was amazed. Looking at the review of the q5 v r2 makes me wonder if I want to move to those. Yeah these are bright now but damm there seems to be a huge difference between the q5 and r2

  9. #9


    mfoga, wait for the r4/r5 ones... the q5 are great band for the buck... if you are stock then the r2 would be good way to go... i am sure the r4 ones will be readily available soon... just wait for those to be affordable... happy that you are enjoying your lights...

  10. #10

    Default Battery vs. LED

    How are you guys deciding whether the X8 battery is beefy enough to power these LED's? I am just curious is all.

    I just got X8's a few weeks ago and ordered some P4s a couple of weeks ago. Wish I had ordered the Cree's now that I see they are brighter than the P4's. Oh well.

    But I really am interested in how to determine if a given battery will supply enough power for a given LED. The reason, I would like to upgrade some of my LED headlamps than run off AAAs, but I have no idea how to decide what is too much LED for the batteries I have.

  11. #11


    well, the way leds work is that they work on a "constant current" supply of energy. which kinda just says, instead of needing 12v like your car items, it needs 1amp of power.

    so, when i did the mod, i left the original leds drivers (the circuit that powers leds, all leds need a driver) so that the actual power consumption is the same! that is the beauty of this mod. as long as you get the same spec leds, consumption doesn't change. with technology, it isn't that all the leds handle more power and is wasteful... leds are basically a race to be efficient. so, all the leds i listed above, are actually rated at the same power. they are just built more efficient.

    changing over some other lamps to AAA is probably a different story. the blackburn battery is great! compact and got good life. AAA is probably not the best choice for batteries? just try to go for the standard AA cause it is cheaper to buy rechargables and they have a better capacity.

    leds are rated by nominal power and also usually by max power. like,

    - Cree Flux/Color BIN: Q5 WG
    - 3.7V typical driving voltage
    - Manufacturer Rated 228 Lumens at 1000mA input current:
    • 350mA: 107~114lm
    • 700mA: 171.2~182.4lm
    • 1000mA: 214 ~ 228lm
    so basically, for leds, you don't look at the voltage power. it is by current. if you push 350mA you recieve about 110 lumens from the led. so by this information, the leds were ment to be powered up to 1amp. which is what the black burn is setup from the factory. so you need to make sure the leds you buy can handle the 1 amp of power. leds can always handle more power then max, only if you have adaquate cooling. cause more power means more heat!

    i think typical overdriving is about 1.2 amps for the cree q5. may be even 1.5amps. but depending on how they are made, some may not be able to handle the over drive power. it is like cpu's, some you can over clock alot, and some you just can't do any faster then factory specs.

    there are several things you should look at when you buy leds...

    #1 power ratings, this will dictate what power supply you need and battery life. this is the "flux" rating. this is the letters you see on the end of the led, p4, q2, q5, r2... shows the quality of the imprinting and power handling and efficiency.

    here is a small chart from cree, of course this is old, it doesn't have the "R" groups... but you can see the p4 and q5 on there...

    #2 style, same leds come in different mounts, star, small star, bare, small square base. this is basically, need to find out if you need it to be on a heatsink board or not. i usually always buy it on a board. just depends on what you want to use it for. smaller stars are for small light mods.... the backburn was built witht he full sized stars. also need to take into consideration, how thick the board is... the cree boards are alittle thinner then luxeon boards... not too big of a deal.

    #3 color ratings, i usually go for a cool white... i odn't like it too blueish or yellow ish. this is the color bin rating. usually, i shoot for the WC color... here is a small chart you can check out...

  12. #12

    Default LED Batteries

    Thanks. This is really helpful. Looks like I will be taking apart my hiking headlamps tonight.

  13. #13

    Default questions on this mod


    First off great article and very helpful, especially with the pics. I have recently purchased the X8's as an upgrade from my halogen set. The battery life was the big winner. I am a daily commuter on an unlit road so need something a bit more than the standard LED. While the LED's on the X8 are sort of adequte a bit more distance would be more appreciated, so this upgrade sounds good. I do have a few questions which I hope you could answer for me as I am new to the LED technology. When I upgrade to the Q5 what about the heat difference, could this have any issues? For instance will I have to be ridding for the wind to cool them down (thinking of those puncture instances). The thickness difference between the LED's use mention you used a non conductive spacer, what did you use? Could a washer of some kind be used? The X8 has a flood and spot lamp, can the same Q5 LED be used in both to get the right effect? Would appreciate your inupt as someone who has been there and done it. Thanks.

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by welshwizard View Post
    When I upgrade to the Q5 what about the heat difference, could this have any issues? For instance will I have to be ridding for the wind to cool them down (thinking of those puncture instances).
    The X8's have a fairly substantial heat sink at the back. (I have read of some people taking them out). The stars sit right on the heat sink. Make sure you generously apply thermal paste to back of the star before you screw it down. Heat shouldn't be a problem.

    I upgraded mine with SSC P4's a couple weeks ago. After a ride I let my bike sit for a few minutes with the lights on. I then put my hand on the lights. They were warm, but nothing close to hot. I would imagine the SSC P4's put out a comparable amount of heat to the Cree Q5's.

    Quote Originally Posted by welshwizard View Post
    The thickness difference between the LED's use mention you used a non conductive spacer, what did you use? Could a washer of some kind be used?
    I also noticed the stock luxeons had a thinker star than my SSC's. I have Cree's on the way because I really want to know the difference between SSC P4 and Cree X5. I ordered both from DealExtreme, so I am guessing the stars are essentially the same.

    Long story short, I didn't use any sort of spacer in mine and they seem to work all right without any jiggling. I did add a lot of thermal paste, however. I would guess if there were any adverse effect, it would be not having max efficiency in the surface area exposed to the heat sink. But as I said, heat hasn't been a problem for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by welshwizard View Post
    The X8 has a flood and spot lamp, can the same Q5 LED be used in both to get the right effect?
    Yes. The difference between flood and spot has everything to do with the optics. You will have to experiment. My SSC P4 does a better job as a spot than a flood IMHO. Bottom line: the Q5's can be used for both.

    At MTBR, the homemade Ameoba uses Cree's for the spots and SSC P4's for the floods, but I am not sure what optics he uses. Take home is that they should work fine.

    When my Crees come, I will do before and after comparing the spot/flood of the SSCs and Crees.

  15. #15


    heat - the luxeon leds that come with the blackburn are actually pretty bad at being efficient. i personally think the cree doesn't create as much heat. but for sure... they dont' run hot... the blackburn leds casing does a great job at dissapating the heat.

    WARNING*- you should not put anything extra between the led and the sink on the bottom. make sure you don't pinch any wires or anything... there need to be a non electrical but heat conductive juntion there. anything extra may be bad for the heat transfer. only put in good quality conductive grease. it is usuaally only 5 bucks, so please don't skim on that...

    beam pattern - this is where personal preferance comes in to play alittle. performance wise... i think the cree has a better focal angle? thsi is from memory. so in essence, more light is going forward, "light spray". the other change will be the actualshape of the beam. luxeons are regularly round. but the die of the led on the cree is actually square! it is interesting. if you put the led on close to the wall, you will see a projection of th die, and you can actually see alittle wire and stuff. personally i like this... i want to see a nice square beam patter on the floor. but of course the optical collector in front of the led smooths out the aquare and sends it out nicely.

    so, basically i think, the actual angle chages a bit, but witht he more light coming out, it washes out pretty even. you just get more distance.

    spacer - since the black burn uses screws to attach the led to the base, you don' have to worry about the spacer there, between point A and B. what will happen is that the lens will no longer be tight fit on the led. this is where you will need a spacer. the best position i found was to put it between E and D. i used the edges of plastic blister packages. you know the clear stuff batteries and certain things come in that are hard to cut out and get to? anyways, if you get an edge, it will be like L shaped and you don't need to make it big. cut may be 2 pieces and slide it where the point G is. you wont know how much you need until you try it. i did a few conversions already and they all differed. just cut a small piece and add it one at a time.

    sorry for the super primative drawing, but i wanted to send help asap... and this was the easiest as i get ready for my day!

  16. #16

    Default Drawing


    Like the drawing.

  17. #17


    Quote Originally Posted by Cilantro13 View Post
    At MTBR, the homemade Ameoba uses Cree's for the spots and SSC P4's for the floods, but I am not sure what optics he uses. Take home is that they should work fine.
    he uses SSC p4 because he isnt' running full (cree q5 power ratings) power to his leds. and i think the SSC is acutally being over driven... cause they are rated at 750ma i think? the Q5 was ment to be run at 1amp so it makes a perfect match for the blackburn system. i am not sure how easy it may be to see an over driven SSC to a Q5 but, the there will be a huge differnce from those to the luxeon lens. just way more efficient.

    my prediction is that, he bought the SSC before when they first came out to play with them. and just kept them? and now that the cree q5's are cheap... he just bought and mixed them up... since they were woring great. the SSC was super popular before the q5 came out.

    but for sure he put in the cree to the spots cause it has a better reach.

  18. #18

    Default Ssc P4

    Quote Originally Posted by faded1004 View Post
    he uses SSC p4 because he isnt' running full (cree q5 power ratings) power to his leds. and i think the SSC is acutally being over driven... cause they are rated at 750ma i think?
    Not sure what the case is for all SSC P4's. Looked at the SSC website to see if I could find some specs. Nothing definitive about ratings, except to say SSC P4's can run at 1000mA. But don't know if they are being overdriven at that current.

    What I find interesting is the claim that they run at 240lm. I saw that number previously, but I am not sure I believe it? If I am not mistaken, that would put the SSC P4's on the same luminosity level as the Cree R2's. But they were released contemporaneously with the Cree Q (I think), which makes me wonder if the Seoul Semiconductor site is accurate.

  19. #19


    Thank you both for your responses. Learnt a lot there. I commute which is an hour each way every day so making sure that the light system doesn't overheat is a big priority (learnt a lesson with a set of cheap halogens). As I said I commute on the road so I don't need HID brightness, but the Q5's seem to offer ample lum's and at a good price. Thanks for the drawing, while it is no picasso it does help explain exactly what part of the light you are talking about. I will definitely be taking your advice on the paste. Can't get the parts in the UK where I live so thanks for the link to Dealtime. Would be intrested in the test between the two LED's though. Read the part on how the LED runs on the ampage (like I said earlier new to the LED technology) and wouldn't want use anything which the battery was not designed to be used with, therefore if the Q5's use the same ampage as the standard LED's in the Blackburn then I think I have a winner.

  20. #20


    just wanted to update, the r2 leds are at a good price right now. it is the same color as the q5 that i picked up and installed in few other peoples lights. it is a good color.

    anyways, anyone looking to upgrade now should just pick up the r2 now... should give you about 490 lumens now...

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