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 E2E Flashlight Mods

I bought a Surefire E2E because it was a good deal. I didn’t realize until I received it how much smaller it is in comparison to the Surefire 6P flashlights that I have. It’s about the same size as my JETBeam Jet-I Pro.

The E2E uses an incandescent lamp, the Surefire MN03 lamp assembly, with an output is 60 lumens. The output seemed a little low so I started looking for ways to make it brighter.

Fivemega, over at candlepowerforums.com makes two nice incandescent options for the E2E, a bi-pin socket and a Mini Turbo Head.

I’d rather use LEDs and I found that Veleno Designs makes a good option fits in the E2E head. The Veleno Designs E Series LED drop-in is machined from brass, has great heat sinking and uses a Cree XP-G LED. I ordered a 3 mode cool white model and while the output was great, the tint was a little green. The manufacturer said that most people order a neutral tint so they don’t have that problem.

I decided to order some neutral tint Cree XP-G LEDs from DigiKey to replace the LED. After I soldered the LED to the board, I trimmed the board with a Dremel so it was a little larger than 3.5mm x 3.5mm, so it would fit on the Veleno pedestal. It still had a green tint.

In a few discussions on cpfmarketplace.com, it was theorized that the E2E reflector was causing the green tint and it was a lottery whether the factory reflector had the green tint. Instead of buying a new bezel/reflector, I tried re-silvering the reflector. The tint was still green.

Because of the work involved in putting another LED on the Veleno drop-in, I decided to try to find a deal on a Surefire KX2 LED Conversion Head. When I received it after a week, the tint on my new KX2 was also green. I had also taken a very long way to get to a E2L Outdoorsman.

Determined to get the light I wanted, I disassembled the KX2 using a heat gun to release the ample amount of glue that Surefire used on the threads to hold the head together. I unsoldered the leads from the LED board, removed the two hex screws holding the LED board to the drop-in and pushed the LED board out.

I then unsoldered the old Cree XR-E and reflowed soldered in a new Cree XR-E (R2 bin). I reassembled the KX2 using Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound underneath the LED board and when I first tried the light the hot spot was off center. I centered the LED and because the threads on the bezel that holds the Surefire Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens were no longer glued, I was able to focus the beam to a perfect hot spot. And finally I have a neutral tint.

Now that the KX2 is open, I could use another driver, maybe try a McR-19XR reflector or an XP-G LED; but it’s been a long road to get here, so maybe I’ll wait a while.

Flashlight Reflector Re-Silvering

E2E bezel with reflector surface removed
E2E bezel with reflector surface painted with chrome paint
 
E2E bezel with reflector surface with silver leaf
Beam shot 6 feet from wall, automatic white balance
 

The beam from my Veleno Designs E-Series LED drop-in my Surefire E2E had a green tint. I replaced it with a neutral tint Cree XP-G LED and the beam still had a green tint. Some people commented that the green tint was caused by the stock Surefire reflector.

Instead of buying a new E2E head, I removed the factory reflective coating on the head with solvent and tried using “chrome” paint to re-coat it. The Krylon Metallics Bright Silver (1401) paint was not reflective enough to be used as a flashlight reflector. With the E2E reflector six feet away from a white wall, the bulb just threw a giant white circle with no hot spot.

Next I tried Mona Lisa Silver Leaf. The leaf material comes in booklets of 25 (5.5″ x 5.5″) sheets. I used Gold Leaf Adhesive Size on the E2E head before applying the leaf. The size is a water-based adhesive that dries to a light tack before the leaf is applied.

The silver leaf is so thin that picking up part of a sheet will tear it. I just tried to get a large enough piece to cover the reflector then I burnished it lightly. There were some creases in the leaf, but since I wasn’t trying to get an absolutely mirror finish, the imperfections weren’t a problem. The reflector with the silver leaf has a nice hotspot. I’m not sure how the size (adhesive) will hold up to the heat.

Malkoff M61 Modded Some More

Cree XP-G in Malkoff Devices M61 Drop-inAfter I put in a 3 mode 1.4 A driver in my Malkoff Devices M61 drop-in, I wasn’t too happy with the yellow/green tint of the Cree XP-G LED. I found a cooler tint XP-G and applied some Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound to the back of the LED board and used some Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive to hold the assembly in place.

Before I reassembled the drop-in, I wiped some hazing off the reflector with some chrome polish and inadvertently removed some of the reflective finish. I needed a new reflector.

Modded Malkoff Devices M61 Drop-in and McR-20S Reflector

I searched for reflectors for the Cree XP-G and found positive comments about Don McLeish’s McR-20 Seoul reflector. I ordered one from the Sandwich Shoppe and it was delivered in 2 days.

There is a recess around the top of the M61 heat sink that the top of the stock reflector sits in – that’s the flat part of the reflector. I put a GITD (Glow In The Dark) O-ring in the recess and it held the McR-20S reflector perfectly. The new LED is mounted on a thinner circuit board than the Malkoff board, which in this case helps with the reflector placement. The bottom of the reflector (with a thin insulator) rests on the LED board. The other end of the reflector is flush with the end of the heat sink.

The beam is very nice. Compared to a M60 or M30, there is less of a hot spot and more spill. The stock M61, IIRC, didn’t have as much of a hot spot compared to the McR-20S.

So far in this mod, I have destroyed the Malkoff M61 driver board and damaged the reflector. But now I’m happy with a drop-in that has a great heat sink, a great beam and three modes. It’s now in my current favorite flashlight, the Surefire C2.

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)