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Dive torch light head

by robvanhaeften, published

Dive torch light head by robvanhaeften Oct 8, 2014


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I wanted to build a powerful dive light that didn't cost the earth but I don't have access to a CNC or metal lathe so I thought I'd see if I could 3d print one.

This is designed to house the 25W, 50W or 100W LED's that you can get cheaply from china or ebay with a 50mm reflector and 44mm collimating lens (you can buy them all from deal extreme or banggood). The front lens is 8mm polycarbonate from Bunnings (or any hardware store) and the rear is 5mm aluminium plate, both sealed by 63mm ID 2mm cross section o-rings. The battery and LED driver are in a separate waterproof enclosure of your choosing.

So far I've left this thing switched on in the sink for an hour and been for a quick snorkel and it definitely works and is super bright with a wide beam, see crappy photo. I'm yet to take it down to any depth to really test it though.


I printed the body solid with 5 perimeters - you don't want any air in there if you can help it. This makes for a pretty solid chunk of plastic that seems to be pretty strong and watertight.

You'll need to cut 40mm radius discs of the polycarbonate (or some other form of clear material and 5mm aluminium with 8 evenly spaced 3.2mm holes with their centers in a 36.75mm radius. You'll also need to cut another piece of aluminium in the shape of the LED but with one of the flat sides coming only to where the yellow LED starts (this is to allow room for the cable gland retaining nut, drop me a line if this doesn't make sense). I used a jig saw and drill press, a water jet cutter or CNC would likely work better.

Other bit's you'll need are:

  • a PG7 or M12 cable gland
  • mini toggle switch if desired (sealed is better) with waterproof boot
  • the LED, reflector, metal retainer and lens.
  • heat sink glue.
  • some wire
  • 8x 60mm M3 bolts, nyloc nuts, and washers
  • 2x 63mm inside diameter, 2mm cross section o-rings.

Assembly is straight forward. Solder leads to the LED first. Glue the smaller piece of aluminium to the back of the LED and then glue the assembly to the centre of the aluminium disc (you might want to pre-drill the hole for the cable gland). This provides a good sized heat-sink that will be in contact with water, so no worries about heat build up. Screw or glue your cable gland and switch into the aluminium, making sure it fits into the back of the body ( I used some JB weld). Thread your cable though the gland and connect to the LED, then tighten the gland to make it water proof. Insert the the lens retainer, then lens then reflector into the printed body. Bolt the whole thing together with the o-rings in the obvious places and there you go. Note that I used acetone to smooth the o-ring grooves before bolting together.

The handle mount needs 2 M5 nuts inserted then the thinner plate glued on top then the whole lot gets glued to the light body. The handle (modified from yakwool's keyhole saw handle) then bolts on using 12mm M5 bolts. There's also a goodman handle I can upload if anybody wants.

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What battery did you use?

I used a 5 AH 4S lipo with a voltage booster, (http://www.banggood.com/DCDC-Adjustable-Digital-Converter-Step-Up-Boost-Module-USB-335V-p-931237.html). Housed in a large otterbox (don't seem to be made any more).


Are there any tips for getting the 3d printed walls waterproof? I am printing with PLA, infill is full... But it seems that I have small holes where water (just testing in a bowl) is coming through. Next step would be printing 3 shells and working with epoxy to seal it totally...

What temperature would you use?
Some special slicer settings?


Hi Tom,

I'd increase the perimeters (use maybe 3-5) as they'll be more hole-proof than infill. Other things you could try are

  • increasing the flow rate a little to squeeze a bit more plastic out so the gaps get filled.
  • increasing the perimeter/fill overlap (in Slic3r, not sure about others)
  • print in ABS if you can and use acetone smoothing

Hope that's of some help!


Some updates on my build:
I am done with the enclose and have pressure tested it to 40m. I am going to test it to 80m soon
I had a bit of troubble to get it leak free first at 20m
Tried with glue (tec 7) and it held to 40m.

I am testing it without any electronics ( will use hall effect switch to eliminate a potensial leak)


Awesome stuff, I'd love to see a photo. Are you using O-rings as well as glue?

Yes the O-rings are glued to the piece so that I can still take it apart and service it.

did you put glue on anywhere else beside the o-ring to PLA interface, or are you using ABS?

Good idea, I'll try that if I have any leaks. Nice work :)

is it possible to get the goodman handle you said you had?
I'm a recreational diver and is currently gathering parts to build this.


Hi Lars, file is uploaded. It's sized for my hand in a 7mm glove and it wedges on nicely

I also put up a file for a pressure spreader to go in front of the lens. It's not totally necessary but I cracked a lens around the bolt holes by over tightening and this should help.

Hi Rob. I’m building a ROV and as you, I don’t have a CNC or a Lathe.

I’ve used a polycarbonate tube, 135 mm diameter, 5 mm thick and 250 mm long as an electronics tube. The end caps are 3D printed (yes, it’s the other way round you did) in ABS 12 mm thick with 100% infill, and sealed by a 5 mm o-ring like you did.

I was wondering when this burst. After 60 Meters a little water (less than a teaspoon) was inside the tube and the tube was foggy. I let them sink in 10 Meter steps down to the lake, wondering what happened. After 136 Meter the tube was on ground (the lake I have my boat on, is unfortunately not deeper). After 15 Minutes in this deep, the tube was filled with about 2 tablespoons of water. I was very happy that this worked so well – I did not expected in advance.

Now I try to improve the tightness. The printed o-ring slot was sanded and treated with acetone to have a smooth surface. Maybe I have to glue the o-ring into the slot.

I think your design works fine for depths usually a scuba diver will go. I think the danger spot is on the cable passage or the switch.

Good luck with your project!

Wow! 136m is pretty impressive, I'll be happy with 30 :) I think for the next version I'll use a thicker o-ring like yours so the groove is easier to smooth out, but I'll wait and see how this one works first.

The switch I think will be ok, it's a sealed switch body with epoxy around the hole and the boot is filled with silicon sealant so there's hopefully not much pressure on it. I think you're right that cable gland is probably the most vulnerable spot, though plenty of others seem to use these plastic ones with no problem. One other problem I think might be heat causing internal pressure, especially if I turn it on out of water.

Good luck with the ROV!

I assume that the aluminum in the back, being in contact with water cools off the LED quite well, otherwise (in air) you will fry it.

That was what I assumed too, though I've left it on for maybe 5 minutes in air with no problem and it's barely warm. It's a fairly substantial chunk of aluminium though, seems like the the mass of it does a good job.

What material are you using?

I'd be curious as to the pressure limits of the build/material.

As a quick test, maybe make a series of spheres, hollow, with different thickness walls, attach them to a line at regular inverals, say 5m (15ft or so), and and then a sufficiently heavy anchor and lower them to about 150ft (beyond the average sport diver's depth). Wait 5 minutes then haul them back up. You'd get a decent picture of their crush depths.

This is just ABS. As soon as I can get polycarb to stick to a bed I'll be trying that. I'm pretty confident that this will take the depth no problem, it's tiny air gaps that would be the biggest problem. I'll know after the first dive though :)

did you print and test in PLA as well or just ABS?