Author Topic: LED Flashlight Build-Up  (Read 8468 times)

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Offline skully

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LED Flashlight Build-Up
« on: September 10, 2011, 07:23:11 AM »
I have a work friend who lives out in California.  Last year we were doing a presentation out there and had some downtime to bullshit about Flashlights.  Little did I know that I was talking to the MASTER (really) of flashlights.  He knew everything about the history, application, and technology of yesterday and today's newer flashlights.    Being a technology product guy myself, I was intrigued with my colleague's fascination.  Even he admitted that for him, the interest in flashlights went from from hobby to obsession.   Now he boasts of a complement of flashlights around his house (one for every room), complete with chargers.   


My Existing Flashlight

For exploring, Dakiel hooked me up with a sweet flashlight about 5 years (has it been that long?) ago. 

Surefire 8NX


The 8NX really a killer flashlight.  Dakiel owns one (or more) as well.  The 8NX boasts an X80 xenon gas-filled lamp that produces about 110 lumens of bright light for up to 50 minutes.   One of the great features of incandescent lights is that they are focusable.  This has a focus ring at the head that allow you to quickly adjust from a range of a narrow spot to wide flood.  Additionally, it has NiCad batteries and comes with smart charger that maintains the longest possible battery life.  There are also some killer filters that this has, UV, blood red, and more.   It's a great light.  The only thing is that quality batteries are not cheap and have become scarce.   My replacement batteries came are now dead.  NiCads, unless they are used daily, have a relatively short lifespan. In addition, new lighting options and intensities have grown considerably since then.


It seems that Surefire is the market leader in terms of making the best of the best tactical flashlights.  A number of their products have become almost "legendary" and, according to my bud in CA, have helped spark a whole new interest in the hobby of high-powered, long-life, lighting based on silicon (LED) and digital circuitry (multi-mode, optic and power conditioning and control).

So, in this post, I figured that I would chronical here my findings, share parts, forum sites, suppliers, and my home trial when I get the unit parts in and assembled.

I'm sure others here have plenty to share about LED handheld options for 2011-2012, so please share.

Oh, I guess I would need to jot down my goals:
  • Form Factor:  Handheld.   Weight, < 1 lb.
  • Cost:  Less than $100 including charger.
  • Application:  Outside in backyard, for emergencies, spelunking, security (blinder for intruder)
  • Power:  Going Lithium Ion only.  Need good solid regulated batteries and a quality charger.
  • Light Element:  Cree LED (have good experience with them), series TBD
  • LED color temp: Between 5k and 8k Kelvin
  • LED Max Brightness:  Between 500 and 800 Lumens MAX
  • LED Function:  3-mode for various brightnesses, 5 mode is too many to click through although nice to have strobe function
« Last Edit: September 10, 2011, 02:45:56 PM by skully »
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Offline skully

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Re: LED Flashlight Build-Up
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2011, 11:26:33 PM »
So I think I found a package that will work for me:

1) Housing

I'm going with the SolarForce L2P ($23)

http://www.lighthound.com/Solar-Force-L2-Flashlight-Host-for-18650--L2-Host-HA-III-Natural-Finish_p_3506.html
    Special edition of L2 in Mil-spec type III hard anodized natural finish
    Flashlight host (head assembly + battery tube + tail switch assembly) without built/drop-in
    Made of aluminum alloy
    Can use either a LED (Cree/ IR/ UV)-reflector or an incandescent (Xenon) bulb-reflector module
    Up to 275 lumens of current-regulated output (Cree LED module)
    Different functions depending on the Cree LED module being used: single or multiple output levels
    Uses both primary (CR123A) lithium or rechargeable li-ion (16340 or 18650) batteries (not included)
    Input voltage (LED module): 0.8-4.2V, 4.2-8.4V, 3-18V
    Input voltage (Xenon bulb module): 3.7V, 6V, 7.4V, 9V, 12V or 14V
    Tail clicky switch
    97 grams (without batteries)
    Length x diameter (head and battery tube, mm): 140 x 32 x 25


2) Battery: SONY 18650 3000mAh 3.7V Protected Li-ion Battery ($8.99 from H.K. - month wait for delivery)

From what I understand, Lithium Ion bats are very sensitive to under and overcharging.   Batteries considered "protected" have built-in circuits that keep them alive and regulated longer.  My buddy also mentioned that there is lots of junk out there so try to go with name brands (LG, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, AW, Redilast). Do not get temped to buy cheaper brands like Ultrafire, Solarforce, Angelfire, etc..   He also mentioned that older (even seemingly dead) Lenovo laptop batteries can be disassembled to retrieve the type-18650 batteries out.  Cool.

3) Light Module:  CREE XM-L T6 3 mode LED ($18)
http://www.solarforcestore.com/servlet/the-1933/MCE/Detail#itemadded
I wanted to go with the 3-mode which would give me 3 intensities.  The brightest however is a whopping 900 lumens.  Whoa.  With a single 18650 battery rated at 3000mAh (or 3 amp-hours), I should get about 2.5 hours at maximum brightness!  Not bad tradeoffs.

900 Lumen CREE XM-L T6 3 Mode LED

Module consists of CREE XM-L T6 LED and a smooth reflector
Use one 3.7v 18650 or 17670 (Surefire) rechargeable battery
Input Voltage: 3.7-4.2V
Led lifetime up to 100,000 hrs
3 Outputs: High, Low, Strobe with memory function
Up to 900 Lumen
Diameter: 26.5mm
Compatible with:Ultrafire 501B 502 503 504 L2 C1, Spiderfire X03, Angelfire A1, G&P T6, Surefire 6P G2 C2 M2 D2 Z2

QUESTION:  Will it drop into my 8NX?  TBA

4) Charger: Pila IBC ($47)
Based on a recommendation, this one is the best.  Not the cheapest but one of the smarter ones out there for charging accurately.
http://www.lighthound.com/Pila-IBC-Charger-for-14500-17500-18500-18650-37-volt-Lithium-Battery-Charger_p_3680.html


Placing the orders, will update later once the parts come in.


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Offline Dakiel

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Re: LED Flashlight Build-Up
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 09:54:39 PM »
I could lend you a few extra batteries and save you the $97  :wacko:
Don't worry, if you die....We'll make it.

Offline skully

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Re: LED Flashlight Build-Up
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 07:23:57 PM »
Thanks man.  I'll keep that in mind although I think the cheap Chinese B90's I bought still have a slight charge left in them.
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Offline skully

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Video Review of Cree LED-based flashlight
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2011, 08:17:57 PM »
My review in HD video glory:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5QaM2cQaj0
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Offline Dakiel

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Re: LED Flashlight Build-Up
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2011, 11:16:42 PM »
Holy Shit, how long till it heats up to where you cant hold it anymore?
Don't worry, if you die....We'll make it.

Offline skully

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Re: LED Flashlight Build-Up
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 07:32:15 AM »
Don't know..  In my use it hasn't really gotten that hot.   If I was out somewhere where I needed it for 30min+ I could see it getting too hot to touch.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2011, 10:37:44 AM by skully »
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Offline omnipotence

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Re: LED Flashlight Build-Up
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2011, 09:23:23 AM »
I've got 2 surefires, not sure the model but I know they I love them and they are the best flashlight I've ever used.  I got a blackhawk headlamp though that is more convient because it leaves your hands free so I use that most of the time