Stop your high power DIY LED flashlights from overheating with liquid cooling

Jul 5, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Stop your high power DIY LED flashlights from overheating with liquid cooling

Jul 5, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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We’ve posted one or two high power DIY LED builds before, but these types of LED have a big problem. They generate a lot of heat, which means they require big heat sinks or very limited use if you don’t want them to melt.

Matthew Perks from DIY Perks has come up with a great liquid cooled solution based around a Corsair Hydro H90 CPU cooler to get around this problem and he’s documented the entire build process in his new video.

YouTube video

It’s definitely not a project for the faint of heart, as it’s pretty involved, but the result are very impressive and it looks very cool.

The cost for the main components comes in at around $205, so it’s perhaps not as inexpensive as some DIY solutions, but it’s still not a massive outlay for what you end up with.

You can get the price down quite substantially by going with a much cheaper LED, but you are going to potentially lose a lot of colour accuracy, which would mean more time correcting in post.

With the Yuji switched out for the Sanzo, the total cost is brought down to about $130.

You will need to add some angle bracket aluminium to this parts list and some MDF, both of which can be picked up fairly inexpensively at your local hardware store, as well as a few miscellaneous bolts and screws to hold everything together.

Along with the video, Matthew has also included a cutting sheet for the mounting bracket to which the LED and cooler attach to the gooseneck, based on AMD processor mounting specifications.

If nothing else, it certainly makes an interesting looking decorative light, albeit a quite expensive one, for your room or office.

wall_mounted_liquid_cooled_led

Just remember to make sure to fill your cooler with liquid before you power it up. Putting power to liquid cooling pumps when dry can quickly and permanently damage them. That could be a costly mistake to make. Apparently these ones come already filled.  Thanks for the info, Ras!

I’d seen the other DIY higher powered LED builds in the past and they all looked a little bit too “ghetto” for my liking, and never really fancied giving them a go, but this one’s actually a pretty intriguing idea. I wonder how effective the liquid cooling on this really is, especially if you’re using it outdoors in fairly warm conditions.

A water pump and fan might not be the best option if you want to use a light for video, but it doesn’t appear to make much of an impact to the sound on Matthew’s videos which he’s been lighting with this since December 2015.

What do you think? Best looking DIY high powered LED light so far? Or a bit over-engineered and expensive for what it is? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “Stop your high power DIY LED flashlights from overheating with liquid cooling”

  1. Ras Kta Avatar
    Ras Kta

    “Just remember to make sure to fill your cooler with liquid before you power it up.”

    Nope, that’s precisely the point of these all-in-one watercooling systems : it’s already filled up and sealed, so you don’t have to worry about liquid or bubbles.

    Also, there are cheaper options, such as the H60 (around $60)

    edit: If I were to put this together, I would definitely look into getting a second hand cooler.
    I never buy second hand cooling systems for my computer needs, but for such a project it would be just fine.

    edit2: if noise is an issue, consider buying one of these :
    https://www.amazon.com/Zalman-Fan-Speed-Controller-FANMATE-2/dp/B000292DO0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467731103&sr=8-1

    that way you can trickle down the fan if needed.
    sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of speed difference to get near to zero noise.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Oh, I hadn’t used them myself, only the full blown water cooling systems, so I didn’t realise they already contained the fluid. Thanks for that. :)

      1. Ras Kta Avatar
        Ras Kta

        these things are pretty nice and reduce the hassle.
        however, i recommend setting something up to monitor the fan, and to never manually set the fan speed, because if it fails, the liquid will dilatate and the pump housing will crack. it happened to me during a heavy aftereffects evening… the fan was on minimum because i wanted it quiet…