Malkoff Drop-in for 3D Maglite

Malkoff Drop-In Module for 2-3 D Cell Maglite

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.

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.

Beamshots: Malkoff Drop-In Module (left), Maglite Krypton bulb (right)

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.

6AA to 2D

Fivemega 6AA to 2DD Battery Adapter

When I built my Roar of the Pelican, a Maglight 2D flashlight modified to be really bright, I used two cheap 3AA to 1D adapters. I needed 6 AA NiMH batteries to make 7.2 V to power the bi-pin incandescent bulb.

I’d read warnings about some cheap battery adapters not being able to handle the high current, so I bought the beautifully engineered Fivemega 6AA to 2D adapter.

The negative end of the adapter fits inside the spring in the Maglite tail cap. The adapter also has a charging jack that takes a 5 mm coaxial DC power plug, so the pack doesn’t have to be disassembled to charge the batteries. Besides 6AA to 2D adapter, Fivemega makes a 9AA to 3D adapter and 3AA to 1D adapter, among other flashaholic things.

Roar of the Penguin

Roar of the Pelican flashlight parts

The Roar of the Pelican is a Maglite flashlight mod that derives it’s name from the use of Pelican flashlight’s replacement bulb #3854 and a combination of non-stock battery holders (or batteries) to get a higher voltage and therefore much brighter (roar) flashlight than a stock Maglite.It’s supposed to be an inexpensive mod. I keep calling it the Roar of the Penguin, because of the recent spate of penguin movies.

For my ROP project, I started out with a 2D Maglite and bought most of the required parts from a Hong Kong electronics reseller,

Modified Maglite switch with groove hacked into it to allow use of reflector without a cam

The stock Maglite reflector is made out of plastic, as is the lens. Because of the greater heat produced by this bulb/battery mod, you need a metal reflector and glass lens.

Aftermarket reflectors are available with a cam or camless. The Kaidomain reflector and bulb combination wouldn’t adjust to the best beam using the included cam, so I made a modification to the Mag switch recommended by modamag in this post at It puts the bulb in a position allowing for beam adjustments by using the threads on the flashlight body. Shims between the reflector and the bulb holder can also be used to adjust the beam quality when using a cammed reflector.

Maglite Bi-pin bulb and socket

Candlepowerforum members have discussed the higher light transmissive properties of anti-reflective coated lenses – some to the point of using mineral glass watch crystals for flashlight lenses. I’m not that critical a worker.

For power, I used two 3AA to 1D battery adapters, which gives 7.2 volts using NiMH AA batteries. I bought 8 Sanyo Eneloop batteries. Eneloops and other similar batteries use a relatively new NiMH Low Self Discharge (LSD) technology.

Roar of the Pelican flashlight beam shot (left) Stock Maglite (right)

I wasn’t sure if these plastic battery adapters would have a problem with the heat produced with the higher current draw of the bulb, so I bought one of these beautiful adapters, made by fivemega over at the candlepowerforums. It’s definitely a safer choice. The Kaidomain socket allows the use of these bi-pin incandescent bulbs, though fivemega also makes a much nicer socket (USD $16-$19).

Costs (USD):

Mag Instrument 2D Flashlight
Aluminum reflector
Glass lens
G4 Bi-pin socket
G4 Bi-pin bulb
fivemega 6AA to 2D adapter
6 AA NiMH batteries

I haven’t done any run time tests, but my Roar of the Penguin is very bright.

November 15, 2008, I updated some links and prices for components.