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Flashlight Mods / Review of 6 Options

LewDude

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I recently put together a few pointers, thought I would share with the group, along with cost/pros/cons of each.

PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT a machinist. I consider myself resourceful, and handy enough to make these 'work', but would not consider ever selling these as they are not 'professional' grade. I simply wanted to build some stuff, and went for it :)


The lineup:

RichFire SF-384 $13.88 on Amazon

Coast G10 $5.35 as Prime Add-on Item through Amazon

ThorFire TG06S $16.50 on Amazon

SD Laser 301 $10 - can be found everywhere

SingFire SF-348 - There are several brands of almost the exact same flashlight. I got this one Amazon, but you can also find them on GearBest or AliExpress.

Ultra Bright Mini LED Flashlight found 2 for $10 on Amazon

IMAG1801 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

Quick beam shot:
IMAG1803 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

The details:
RichFire SF-384
IMAG1811 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

This is a neat little host. Takes 1 10440 (AAA size).
I am running a MicroFlex Drive at 250mA with an Osram 1.6w 450nm.
This is putting just over 100mW with a 3 element glass lens.

Pros:
Looks decent when powered off.
Was fairly easy to mod
Cheap

Cons:
No heat sinking outside of module and maybe a tiny bit of contact with host.
The positive battery contact is a very small board. I ended up using a spring on the bottom of the driver. This can be tricky.

Overall:
Like this. Would maybe see if cutting down the module length would allow to slide it in and NOT drill the front of the host out, and still fit a SMALL driver. However, this would likely hurt heat sinking ability (what very little there is already). UPDATE - SEE POST #4

Coast G10
IMAG1727 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

I am using a MicroFlex drive - I think I ended up putting it at 500mA, with an Oclaro 700mw 638nm diode. 1 10440 Li-Ion. Outputting 440mW with a 3 element glass lens.

Pros:
About as simple to mod as the RichFire - but is a tad bit longer - allowing for a bit larger of a driver.
Love the feel of the clicky on these.
Doing a G20 could support 2 batts (see Overall below)

Cons:
Again, heat sinking (or lack there-of).
Re-using the positive battery contact (spring) on the end of the driver can be tricky.

Overall:
I LOVE these "inspection beam" flashlights from Coast. Whenever Fry's puts them on sale, I buy them up and give them to friends, as you can literally get them for 3 bucks. The G19 is very similar, but has a clip - so I would imagine modding it would be the same. Also the G20 - same host but takes 2 AAA - so I'm thinking possibly using 2 10440s and a buck driver - but HEAT is going to be the issue...as with most of these :)

ThorFire TG06S
IMAG1736 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr
IMAG1735 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

I made 2 of these :
1) Using a Pico Drive from Astralist - Set to 190mA with a Sharp 35mw 505nm putting out 60mW with an acrylic lens. I had to put a diode in series with the + battery input to get this current. 1 14500 (AA size) Li-Ion
2) Using the EXISTING LED driver. This has a Full/Med/Low/Moolight cycle - and the power output works decently well with an M140 445nm. 1 14500 Li-Ion.
Testing the driver with a dummy load - it would max out at 1.4A. Output for each level: 250/92/14/3mW.

Pros:
Again, I'm NOT a machinist, so getting a module to fit in this one was brunt of the design work. Using an Aixiz 15mm module, you can simply glue it to the end AND you have an isolated diode (which works out well for the Sharp 505).
I was able to use a blank 16.8mm battery contact board to replace the existing driver. Thats nice and easy.

Using the existing driver is probably asking for a LED, however it makes for a super simple build! We're talking $16 for the flashlight, an Aixiz module, and an M140 to have light.

Cons:
:horse: No heat sinking outside of the module. Crappy 'glued together' finished product. This is NOT something I'm proud of from a design perspective. Thermo nuts will HATE this.

SD 301
2018-04-24_12-15-50 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

This was a Green 532nm. I got a handful of these for around $10 a piece off Amazon for this exact purpose. Remove the module/driver, and replace with my own. I removed a section of the host, and was still able to fit a standard Aixiz (front end) module, an Astralist Boost driver, and 1 CR123A Li-ion. I have the driver set to 140mA, pushing a Sharp 490nm, getting around 50mW.

Pros:
Super cheap
I'm not using the lens that came with it, but I'm using the external piece that held the lens/focuser. This acts as a bit of a 'splash guard'.
Lots a space for whatever driver you like
Has a BIT of heat sinking - using the existing heat sink.

Cons:
Lost the side-momentary-on button - could be salvaged, though. I just use the key as the on/off.
Getting a spring/positive battery contact board situated can be difficult.
Not the most appealing host when turned off.

SingFire SF-348
IMAG2539 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

Great looking little host! Looks similar to a Sanwu Pocket. Props to T_Warne for helping me figure out how to tackle this with his build post here. I have a M140 and a FlexDrive at 250mA in this currently.

This was by far the toughest build to pull off, due to the compactness. For me, I had to use a grinder as well as a Dremel to make some modifications. 1st, the diode module is too large in diameter to fit in the host. So it has to be ground down - which took me a long time. There are certainly better ways to do this, but I used a vise and a cordless drill with a grinding stone. Also, to save some space "length-wise", I cut off a bit of the top of the Aixiz. Side-by side of a standard Aixiz and mine, after hours of work :)
IMAG2519 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

On top of this, there is a lip on the inside that stopped me from sliding the 'pill' further down into the host - again, I used the Dremel and a tiny grinding stone to smooth out the inside of the host.

Putting it all together took me many tries. I killed a (expensive) diode and a driver in the process. At 1st I used the back-half of a standard Aixiz module, with a section cut out, to act as a buffer inbetween the diode and the pill, to protect the driver. Even after grinding down that inner-lip, I still couldnt get the whole package down far enough. I ended up switching and using a plastic spacer that worked MUCH better. I didn't get any pics of it - but I'll likely be doing another one of these soon and I'll update with a pic. Here is the 1st (FAILED) version:

IMAG2518 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

As you can see - using a standard "AAA" (10440) size battery - it was close, and thats why I trimmed down the Aixiz a couple mm. All said and done, with the 2nd version eliminating the pill, and cutting down some off the tail-cap spring, I was able to get the AAA battery in there!!

Pros:
Looks sharp

Cons:
TOUGH build
Might need to use a smaller battery to get everything to fit. 10280s are hard to find.
Poor heat-sinking

Update 6/1
Ultra Bright Mini LED Flashlight

A new silver 11440. This one is not nearly as nice/solid as the previous SingFire AAA host (no where close). However, it's maybe the easiest of them ALL to mod! I was able to use the existing driver with a 11440 LiPo and a S06J and a 3EG and get around 200mW out of it. 5 bucks for the host, desolder LED, solder on diode in Aixiz front end, done.

You are risking your diodes precious life hooking it up to this driver. Doubt there is any softstart, thermal protection, etc. You can't adjust the current. Using a 1140 LiPo and a dummy load - I was getting 250ish mA with 4/5 diodes in a string. When only using 2 diodes it was up around 800mA. I was contemplating using a red diode, but wasn't going to put that much current through one, so I opted for a higer Vin 405. You may think I'm nuts - but I'm having fun :D

A few quick pics:

Host with front end pulled off and guts ripped out:
IMAG2749 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

2nd View of Internals:
IMAG2750 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

This is why its 2 for $10. The front end is just plasic compression fit:
IMAG2759 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

Diode soldered in place:
IMAG2757 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

View from front:
IMAG2760 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

This is NOT seamless nor metal - get what you pay for:
IMAG2761 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

The back-end:
IMAG2762 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

BEAM:
IMAG2766 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

Pros:
CHEAP
Easy
Fast shipping w/Amazon Prime

Cons:
Cheap
No Heatsinking
If using existing driver, risky




Have no idea if this will help anyone on the search for a 'quick and dirty' home-build. It certainly is NOT the answer if you want something professional grade, that will make your diode last as long as it can. But, it was fun and I learned a few things from myself.

I'd be happy to do a more-in-detail build thread of any of these, but I won't have my feeling hurt if no one asks :crackup:

Also, I screwed up the driver, but I'm doing a Anker LC40 soon. It might get interesting :)

Thanks for checking these out!
 
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paul1598419

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 4 Options

Congrats, Lewie. I'm glad you are trying to build your own lasers. At some point you need to get away from these small hosts so you can have a nice sized aluminum or copper heat sink. Then you can over drive these a bit without the risk of losing it.
 

BobMc

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 4 Options

Pretty impressive! Nice little collection you got started there. Thanks for letting us get a look/see. :gj: on the write up too.
 

LewDude

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 4 Options

Update:
I liked the idea of trying the RichFire SF-384 (the 1st option in OP) with a cut-down Aixiz.
I found the flashlight on GearBest for like $8 USD, so I got a couple.
In the process, I somehow fried the 1st rear-clicky, and a Pico drive - so I'm glad I bought 2 :crackup:

With the 2nd one - I gave the built-in driver a whirl on the test load, using just a standard 1.5v AAA and it would put out 200mA at 2.5v...I do have a Ocalro 638nm 250mW diode, but I didnt really want to use a Red. I opted for a M140 (A) and using a 1.5v AAA, it barely put out any light. So I popped in a Li-Ion, around 4V and got some nice light. I did NOT test to see what current it produced, and I was risking over-working that driver, but I was living on the edge!!

I did put it on the homemade LPM - which I found to be accurate enough to use for now.

Here is a side profile shot of the Dremel'd Module:
2018-05-19_03-12-10 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

Looks pretty good assembled!
IMAG2293 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

IMAG2294 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

LPM on 1st Click:
IMAG2291 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

2nd Click is a flasher...

3rd Click is 100%:
IMAG2292 by Lewie Wilkinson, on Flickr

I would not run this for very long at all on 100%. But on 1st click I think 20 or 30 seconds might be OK...this project was more out of curiosity than anything. :D . Curiosity quenched.
 

Gazen

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 4 Options

Nice job, even though they’re not professional quality. :gj:
 

paul1598419

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 4 Options

Not bad, Lew. You need to build a dummy load on a proto board with a 1 ohm 5 watt resistor, 10 10 amp rectifiers and some header pins so you can use shunts to switch the number of diodes in series for different Vf laser diodes. I have several of these using this or 0.1 ohm 1% resistors for higher current loads.
 

Gazen

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 5 Options

Nice small host. What diode is in it?
 

paul1598419

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 5 Options

Looks like another MM 445nm diode. But, it would need to be under driven in such a small host. If you switch to copper modules instead of those nickel plated ones you use, you would get better thermal control even in hosts without heat sinks. Nice little EDC build.
 
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Shotgundrums

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 5 Options

Nice little hosts!! I like EDC concepts but like Paul and others said... you greatly risk losing the diode with inadequate heatsinking. I have a couple EDCs and their cycles have to be VERY short as they’ll get warm fast.
SGD:beer:
 

Lifetime17

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Re: Flashlight Mods / Review of 5 Options

Hi Lew
Flash light mods are fun to make and you have a large variety to choose from. Basically almost everyone here at one time or another built these mods. Personally I like to build them with custom sinks and focus adapters, that makes the job a little easier but still time consuming . Great thread and thanks for sharing.

Rich:)
 

paul1598419

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Just for future use, Lew. You would get better heat sinking on these cheap builds if you use a copper module instead of AixiZ one you used here. That driver isn't regulating current like a laser diode driver would, so it will put out whatever it can depending entirely on the load. If you use more voltage in, it will drive whatever you put in that much harder. Since the S06J can take 500 mA, you likely got lucky, but that doesn't mean the diode won't fail. As the diode heats up, it will draw more current. Otherwise, a clever build.
 
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LewDude

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I'm with ya on all points there, Paul. These are all primarily for conseptual purposes (specifically: would this host work for a cheap/easy build), but if anyone were to duplicate these I would hope your input would be closely considered. I tried to make that fairly clear, but for anyone without this understanding going into a build like this, so I'm glad you are reiterating these points as they are very true if you don't want to find yourself with a ruined diode!!

Always appreciate your feedback, buddy. I've learned much from you over time !!
 







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