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  1. #1
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    Not a bike light - but my weekend project:

    I have an old Maglite 3-Dcell that was given to me in 93 as a highschool graduation present. It has seen a lot of use, but has spent the last several years in my truck, with flat batteries.

    I pulled it out to swap the batteries, and in the process started looking at LED drop-ins. The Malkoff dropins kept the current so low to deal with the alkaline power source. Then that naturally progressed into a Li-Ion upgrade, which meant a different driver and an XM-L.

    By the time I was done, I could have probably bought a nicer light somewhere, but where's the fun in that.

    First - pulled the switch assembly out of the body, and began sizing up an adapter to fit a pair of Panasonic 3100's in as the new powersource. I found that 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC is approximately the diameter of a C-cell on the outside, and just a hair bigger than a 18650 on the inside. Oh yeah, and it is cheap. Add some thick o-rings to the outside of the PVC, and now you have a holder, the approximate outside diameter of D-cells. To take up the extra length between the tailcap and the Lithiums, I drilled a 3/4" wooden dowel out, ran a 10-24 bolt through, and a big washer on the end to simulate the end of a D or C cell battery. the thru bolt would allow the ground path and tailcap spring to work as normal.
    Last edited by adrenalnjunky; 01-20-2013 at 10:27 AM.

  2. #2
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    Then the point of no return! Hack up the switch housing to solder on some power leads for the driver. You can also see the completed spacer I made to hold the 18650's in the PVC adapter tightly, and still allow good contact between the endcap spring:


    Last edited by adrenalnjunky; 01-20-2013 at 10:16 AM.

  3. #3
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    Time to bench test! I'm using a DX 3 mode 4-18V 3A buck driver, the heatsink is from a guy named jayrob on CPF and other light/laser forums
    (I forgot to take a pic of my heatsink - so here's one of his pics - it uses a setscrew machined at an angle to hold the heatsink into the body)




    The XM-L I'm using here is just a spare I had laying around.


    Last edited by adrenalnjunky; 01-20-2013 at 10:37 AM.

  4. #4
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    At this point, I was stuck waiting for Matt to flow the XM-L2 I ordered from Illumination supply onto a 14mm MCPCB for me so I could button everything up.

    Since idle hands are the devil's plaything, I decided I needed a charging jack in the tailcap so I didn't have to disassemble to charge batteries.

    I had the local BatteriesPlus weld tabs onto the Pannys, and I ran a 22ga lead down the inside of the PVC (there's just enough space) and out the tailcap through a N-size DC jack.


  5. #5
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    Beamshots are similar to the ones Jay mentioned in his thread I linked to. Although the focusing doesn't work as well as the stock halogen setup. I can focus a tight close-up spot that throws a really long way.

    I'll post some beamshots tonight, but last night I was lighting up a tree @ 167' with a very good beam center, and the apartment buildings on the other side of the tree that I estimate are about 3 more times that distance away.

    Curiously - I had to order some stuff on Amazon, and saw an Ultrafire WF-502B - XM-L 900-lumen advertised for $14-free shipping.

    Amazon.com: Ultrafire Wf 502b Cree Xml T6 3 Mode Cree Led Flashlight 900 Lumens w/ Integrated Belt Clip: Home Improvement

    I've contemplated getting one of these from DX just to mess with for a while now, and at this price from a USA seller, I decided to bite.

    Some of the reviews clearly indicate that the Amazon description is incorrect, and that this light is an XM-L, but more in the 500lm range, and is 5 mode, not the advertised 3-mode. There's a DX listing for the light matching what the reviews say. 1.4A drive current instead of ~3A.

    But - the light I got seems to come close to the Mag, and is 3 mode, not 5. I dropped in a spare samsung 18650 salvaged from a laptop battery and this thing is pretty dang good for $14. It doesn't have the throw the Maglite does, but it definitely has better spill. I'm curious to see exactly what current it is drawing, But my multimeter is on the fritz and won't measure current at all right now. If it isn't running close to 3A, I've got some of the 7135 drivers here that I could swap in if I really wanted full output. Might be a job for next weekend!
    Last edited by adrenalnjunky; 01-20-2013 at 11:17 AM.

  6. #6
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    nice job, great to see it take shape! Hopefully the XM-L2 should be with you tomorrow or the day after, so I expect more photos soon after You should also post this on BLF, they're always keen to see new takes on Maglite conversions.

    As for the beam, that seems to match what I've heard - amazing throw at the expense of some spill. Would make a great dog finding or "what's the no. on that house?" light.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    nice job, great to see it take shape! Hopefully the XM-L2 should be with you tomorrow or the day after, so I expect more photos soon after You should also post this on BLF, they're always keen to see new takes on Maglite conversions.

    As for the beam, that seems to match what I've heard - amazing throw at the expense of some spill. Would make a great dog finding or "what's the no. on that house?" light.
    Sorry for the confusion - the LED showed up yesterday and I completed everything. Thanks again Matt!!!

    I'd post on BLF, but since I think Jay (the heatsink guy) has posted his stuff there, really the battery holder is the only "custom" thing I did to the build.

    I may post there anyway, just to get a little post count going over there, but I don't see myself getting super-involved in modding flashlights without machining capability.

    That Taig micro-lathe is looking more and more interesting :-)

  8. #8
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    i do have half a mind to put a regina on the Mag's XM-L - inside the stock reflector. Just to experiment.

  9. #9
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    no problem, glad it got there ok!

    Rather than use a Regina (which wouldn't throw nearly as well), I'd check out some of the reflectors Old Lumens uses in his Mag mods. Just search BLF for his mods or PM him direct, he's a helpful guy. 2nd hand info, but a lot of people have said that the incan reflector isn't as good as it could be with LED and the best results come with LED specific reflectors.

  10. #10
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    beamshots:
    Maglite Mod#1
    XM-L2 U2-bin 1C-tint. Driven with DX Sku:128169
    Stock (modifed per thread) Maglite-D reflector and lens.

    The tree with the pedal reflector screwed into it (I wonder how that got there?) is at 167' from the camera. White fence across the way is about 3x the distance the tree is, and the apartments are about 4x the distance as the tree.

    camera data:
    Canon Rebel XTi
    F/4
    6 second exposure
    ISO 200
    Zoom at 30mm

    Control:


    Mag Hi:


    Mag Lo:


    And the $14 Ultrafire 502B
    UF Hi:


    UF Lo:

  11. #11
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    Great Project build.

  12. #12
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    wow, that's some crazy throw! Looks like a really nice tint for a cool white. I'd be happy with that for a light, looks like it's got a lot of punch without giving up too much close in useability.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    wow, that's some crazy throw! Looks like a really nice tint for a cool white. I'd be happy with that for a light, looks like it's got a lot of punch without giving up too much close in useability.
    Yeah - I was impressed with the "neutral" color it had for being a 1C tint. Especially compared to the Ultrafire looking like the typical "cool" 1A or 1B type tint.

    I think it is right on that line of cool and neutral where it looks better to the eye, with still having the shock value of how bright it is.

    I snagged my dad's Fluke DMM last night, I'm going to do a current check this evening to verify what each light is running at.

    I'm serious - that Ultrafire is a steal if you have a spare 18650 floating around. something to throw in a glovebox or camelbak for unexected situations, and you don't feel terrible if it comes up missing or broken. for $14, an XML on what looks like a 14-16mm board, and a driver it's almost worth gutting for a budget bike light build.

  14. #14
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    put a meter on them tonight - the DX driver in the mag is only providing about 2400ma on high, which is really about in line with several of the reviews on DX. Not that disappointed, for a $4 driver I suppose. If I were really serious, I'd step up to a B3flex.

    The Ultrafire was only doing 1900ma on high. Which of course is nowhere close to the "900 lumen". I've got a spare 7135 linear driver from illumination supply - just not sure I want to go through the trouble to swap it all out. It's plenty bright as is, and will just go easier on the battery. Right?

  15. #15
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    that a hell of an improvement over the stock Maglight .

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalnjunky View Post
    put a meter on them tonight - the DX driver in the mag is only providing about 2400ma on high, which is really about in line with several of the reviews on DX. Not that disappointed, for a $4 driver I suppose. If I were really serious, I'd step up to a B3flex.

    The Ultrafire was only doing 1900ma on high. Which of course is nowhere close to the "900 lumen". I've got a spare 7135 linear driver from illumination supply - just not sure I want to go through the trouble to swap it all out. It's plenty bright as is, and will just go easier on the battery. Right?
    I'd leave the Ultrafire as is, unless you want a brighter mid mode or a better UI. If you want to get fancy, DrJones on BLF sells a programmable 7135 driver (you specify max output when you order) that can have as many or few modes at whatever levels you like. Not much money either, $9 I think. I'm going to get one soon for a headlamp build. Either way, 2A is a good level for an XM-L in a small host - the battery will thank you and the switch will last longer too.

    You might be able to resistor mod the Maglite driver if you want more current. There's usually a current sense resistor on there somewhere, increasing its resistance increases max current, through some arcane chicanery Post it up on BLF and someone will pipe up that's done it or can help. 2.4A isn't a bad current level though, you don't get a huge amount more stepping up to 3A.

  17. #17
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    I'm pretty sure I'm leaving them both alone - I'm actually pretty happy with the results.

    Now If I could figure out a way to get my old trusty Surefire G2 hopped up. I've got a XR-E P60 dropin in it, but it eats the rechargable Cr123's in no time flat before protection circuits kick in. I think it is a current supply issue, but possibly a heating problem. It lasted much longer on the Alkaline 123's, but they're so friggin expensive. And the case is a hair too narrow to squeeze a 18650 in there.

  18. #18
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    how about 17650s? There are all kinds of funky sized cells, I'm sure one of them will fit.

  19. #19
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    I started a thread on BLF. Lol - what have you started!!!!

    My main issue is that the driver in the dropin is a buck driver on an XR-E- Cree R2 Drop-In 1-Mode LED Module (3.7V~18V / 26.5mm x 29mm) - Free Shipping - DealExtreme.

    I'm not sure how long it would stay on under load with a single cell.

  20. #20
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    This turned out very cool!

    That sucker has some light power

    I have a couple of these Mags laying around & now you got me thinking.......

    Don
    09 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by beecrazy View Post
    This turned out very cool!

    That sucker has some light power

    I have a couple of these Mags laying around & now you got me thinking.......

    Don
    It's got me thinking too - thinking I need a Taig micro-lathe.



    jayrob on CPF is who i got my heatsink from, and he machined it for me with a little different spec due to the depth of the driver I was using. He was fast and communicated very well.

    that being said, if i did it again, I'd experiment with the H22A heatsink just for price. I do not know if that sink has a driver pocket in it like mine did.

    ******** H22A Heatsinks ********

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