Modified Malkoff Devices M60 Drop-in

Modified Malkoff Devices M60 with 8xAMC7135 (2.8A) multi-mode driverMalkoff Devices designs and manufactures high powered LED flashlight modifications for Maglites and Surefire flashlights and their own Malkoff LED flashlights. Their products are so well designed and constructed that they are coveted by professionals that depend on their flashlights and enthusiasts that appreciate their quality.

I bought my first Malkoff Devices M60 drop-in five years ago. The M60 drop-in had a Cree X-RE LED (Q5 bin) and Khatod 6 degree optic. This drop-in output 180 lumens driven at 1000 mA with a 2-3 hour runtime with two CR123 batteries. I wanted to update my M60 with a more powerful driver/LED combination.

In 2008, Cree XR-E LEDs were delivering 220 lumens at 1000 mA. In December of 2012, Cree introduced the XM-L2. Driving the XM-L2 U2 bin at 1000 mA will produce about 412 lumens. At 3000 mA, the XM-L2 will produce over 1000 lumens.

Multi-mode flashlights are more useful for me so I decided to use an 8xAMC7135 (2.8A) multi-mode driver and a Cree XM-L2 (U2 bin). The multi-mode driver has four configuration options, selectable during the build by grounding one of the four “stars” on the rear of the circuit board:

  • Star 1: 5/30/100/strobe/SOS
  • Star 2: 5/100/strobe
  • Star 3: 5/30/100
  • Star 4: 5/100

Modified Malkoff Devices M60 with McGizmo McR20J reflector

Because of the robust nature of the Malkoff drop-in, disassembly is basically destructive. The stock circuit board is potted and the LED MCPCB is securely glued.

To get the 8xAMC7135 driver board to fit in the Malkoff brass heatsink, I had to slightly reduce the 17mm diameter of the circuit board.

To solder the LED to the MCPCB, I used a lead solder paste with a SMD hot air rework solder station at 220 degrees C for 40 seconds. After applying some Artic Silver 5 CPU Thermal Compound to the bottom of MCPCB, I glued it to the heatsink with JB Weld.

After some research on reflectors, I chose the McGizmo McR20J (Joker). A glow-in-the-dark o-ring holds the reflector very securely in the heatsink.

I compared this mod to the EDCPlus/IS X60L3 Triple XP-G2 LED P60 Dropin. The Malkoff mod has a very nice hotspot while the EDCPlus Triple has a broad floody beam. I like the nice hotspot the Cree XM-L2 produces with the McGizmo McR20 Joker reflector. It also has a decent amount of spill.

Modified Malkoff Devices M60 with McGizmo McR20J reflector beam shot

For this beam shot, I converted the original color image to black and white. The drop-in was about four feet (1.21 m) from the wall. On this off-white wall, there is a slight, but noticeable green tint from the beam.

I put the drop-in in my Surefire C2. Instead of wrapping the drop-in with copper tape, I used some thin aluminum stock as a shim. I haven’t done any runtime tests but after 10 minutes on 100% power, the C2 bezel gets warm but not hot.

Parts sources:
Malkoff Devices Drop-ins for Surefire and Malkoff
Cree XM-L2 LED
8xAMC7135 driver board at Shiningbeam.com (2.8A) and Illumination Supply (3.04A)
McGizmo McR20J (Joker) Reflector

Surefire Z32 Bezel

Surefire 6P with Surefire Z44 bezel (top), Surefire 6P with Surefire Z32 bezel (bottom)

The Surefire Z32 bezel was used on the Surefire M2 flashlight and currently on the Surefire M951XM07 Millennium® Universal WeaponLight. The main design function of the bezel is to isolate the incandescent lamp assembly from weapon recoil shock. Since the shock mechanism reduces the heat dissipation ability of the bezel, I use aluminum shims or copper tape around the LED drop-ins to help dissipate the heat through the flashlight body.

The Surefire 6P, is to me, what a flashlight looks like (though I have moved on from incandescent lamp assemblies to LED drop-ins, such as this modified Malkoff M61). The stock Surefire 6P is 5.20″ (132 mm) long and the bezel diameter is 1.25″ (~32 mm). I like the current design of the Surefire Z32 bezel as opposed to the original design with the vented ribs. The Z32 bezel is about 1/4″ larger in diameter and about 3/8″ longer than the Z44 bezel that is standard on the 6P. With a Z32 bezel on a 6P body, it looks even more like a flashlight.

Malkoff M61 Mod

Malkoff Devices M61 Drop-inI received my Malkoff M61 drop-in last week. The drop-in uses a Cree XP-G LED and it’s designed to replace the lamp assembly in Surefire 6P style flashlights. Malkoff Devices says, “the output is approximately 260 measured out the front lumens.” It is a single mode drop-in.

I bought the M61 with the intention of modding it with the Shiningbeam three-mode regulated circuit board (NLA). The Cree XP-G had recently noted an “increase of maximum forward current to 1500 mA for XLamp XP-G Cool White is retroactive and applies to all XLamp XP-G Cool White LEDs produced by Cree. The increase is the result of more extensive qualification testing that was performed after the initial product launch.” The Shiningbeam board output current is 60 mA on low, 440 mA on medium and 1.4 A on high.

First, I removed the potting and contact spring. In the process, I destroyed the Malkoff driver board. I used a Dremel to reduce the diameter of the Shiningbeam board so it would fit inside the drop-in.

Modded Malkoff Devices M61 Drop-in

The Shiningbeam board works as advertised – I measured 1.4 A on high, 450 mA on medium and 65 mA on low. I’m not enamored with the yellow-green tint of the LED; maybe I’ll replace it down the line.

I have also used the Shiningbeam board in a DealExtreme XP-G R5 drop-in (SKU 32954). The result, compared to the Malkoff, is a little more throw and a lot less spill. The tint of the DealExtreme LED is also cooler – more blue.

After disassembling the M61, it’s clear that this is a most robust, superbly constructed drop-in. I can see why a professional would be able to rely on this drop-in in a life or death situation. But flashlights for me are a hobby, which is why I wanted to mod this drop-in to have (a more useful for me) three modes. (Note: Malkoff Devices now makes a three mode M361 P60 style drop-in that has an input voltage of 3.4-6 volts)

Malkoff Drop-in for 3D Maglite

Malkoff Drop-In Module for 2-3 D Cell MagliteYou’d think a 3D cell Maglite would be pretty bright. It’s over 12.5″ (310 mm) long and weighs over 30 oz (850 g) with batteries. With the standard Krypton bulb, the 3D Maglite puts out about 76 lumens. A flashaholic wants 76 lumens from a keychain light.

The Maglite may be behind in bleeding edge illumination technology, but flashlight modders like them because it’s a great platform to build upon. One of my first mods was the Roar of the Pelican – a 2D Maglite running on 6AA batteries and a high wattage bulb. It puts out about 600 lumens.

3D Cell Maglite with Malkoff Drop-In Module

There are many LED Maglite mods that will put out a lot of light. Multi-chip LEDs – the Cree XLamp MC-E, Seoul Semiconductor Z-Power P7 and the Luminus SST-50 and SST-90 PhlatLight LEDs are popular because of their high outputs. You just need a heatsink for the LED, a driver and suitable batteries in a combination that won’t burn up any of the components. A lot of people have figured this out for you. Google.

I decided to do the easiest high performance 3D cell Maglite upgrade: Malkoff Devices’ Maglite drop-in with the Cree XP-G LED. It’s not as bright as a multi-chip LED mod, but the Malkoff drop-in uses regular alkaline D cell batteries and it has a six hour runtime at full output. The only problem with the Malkoff drop-in is that it’s difficult to buy because it’s so popular. Once they are in stock, they sell out quickly. Malkoff Devices back-in-stock email notification system will alert you when they’re available, but even then you have to be fast.

Beam shot

Installation is simple: remove the existing bulb, push the drop-in down as far as it will go inside the flashlight and tighten the screw (which wedges the drop-in’s heat sink against the flashlight body). The bottom part of the reflector needs to be cut off to accommodate the drop-in. This is a simple cut with a razor saw. If that is too much for you, Malkoff Devices sells a pre-cut Maglite reflector for 7$.

Malkoff Devices description: “This dropin produces a real 260 (measured out the front) lumens in a 2D or 3D light with alkaline batteries. The Drop-In module is constructed of CNC machined structural aircraft aluminum and has a regulated driver. Full heatsinking of the driver and LED insure that the module can, and will, run at maximum output for extended periods. It will easily illuminate objects at a distance of 1000+ feet and will light a 2 inch red reflector at a distance of more than 1/4 mile. If you shine someone with this at night, within a 100 ft radius, they should see spots for a good 8-10 seconds.

Cree MC-E P60 drop-in Mod

Cree MC-E LED P60 Drop-inI was a little disappointed with my DealExtreme Cree MC-E P60 drop-in (SKU 21037). The specs say that on high, it should be pulling 2800ma and putting out 410 lumens. I measured 1.67A on high with a Li-Ion 18650 battery. But for $23.49 USD, I couldn’t complain too much.

I saw that Shiningbeam.com has a 3-Mode Regulated Circuit Board for Cree MC-E and SSC P7 LEDs (SKU 1217). Their specs say the output current is 2500mA on high. I thought I’d try it as a replacement for the circuit board in my DX drop-in.

It was an easy replacement since the Shiningbeam circuit board diameter is the same 17mm as the DX drop-in board. I am using it in a bored Surefire 6P body with the Surefire 6P bezel and a Solarforce L2-S4 tailcap.

Shiningbeam.com SKU 1217

The drop-in was a little loose. I had been using a Malkoff Beryllium-Copper spring washer, but it didn’t work too well this board. I cut one turn of a P60 drop-in spring and it creates a 1mm gap between the bezel and the body, but it works. I also had to put a longer spring on the circuit board because without it, the battery was loose.

After I wired it up, I measured 2.39A on full power with the same battery, so it’s a worthwhile replacement. I don’t have the means to measure the light output except for the current draw but it is much brighter than the stock DX MC-E drop-in – though it still doesn’t look as bright as my direct drive P7 in my Ultrafire C2.

The other nice thing is the Shiningbeam board has Low-Medium-High modes as opposed to the High-Low-Strobe on the stock DX.