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.
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.
I 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.
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)
You’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.
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.
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 $12.99.
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.“
The DealExtreme P60 size drop-in works with 2.7V~4.2V – a single Li-Ion 18650 battery, single RCR123A battery or CR123A battery. There is also a not too low level mode and annoying strobe mode. In the Surefire 6P host (about 5.2″ long – 13.2 cm), the DealExtreme Cree MC-E drop-in is an extremely bright flashlight in a small package. There is an extensive list of similar sized flashlights that use P60 size drop-ins in this Candlepowerforums.com thread.
DealExtreme seems optimistic in their description of the MC-E drop-in brightness as 410 lumens. It has more flood and less of a hot spot than the Malkoff M30. For comparison, my Malkoff Devices M30 output is rated at a realistic 235 lumens. My SSC P7 mod, inspired by jirik_cz, gives me the feeling that I am seeing everything. If not for the $125 USD cost, I would be all over the Malkoff M60 MC-E (NLA).
In my flickr set below, there are beamshots comparing the Cree MC-E, Cree XR-E and SSC P7. I centered the beam of each light on the scrawny tree against the fence.